Google rolling out Android in-app purchase support in May


Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will officially introduce in-app purchase support across its Android mobile operating system in May 2011, leveraging the Social Gold virtual monetization platform it acquired by purchasing currency and payment solutions provider Jambool last August. An email sent to current Social Gold users states the product will wind down in favor of a new Google-branded in-app payment solution, with a pre-release beta program already underway. "This system will enable developers to accept payments within an app, but it will not have the full functionality of Social Gold at launch," Jambool states. "We understand that this will not meet the needs of all developers currently using Social Gold, but we highly encourage interested developers to join the Google in-app payments beta by submitting your information at"

Google hosts its annual I/O developer event on May 10 and 11. Conventional wisdom suggests the digital services giant will officially launch the Android in-app payment platform at that time.

In a February blog post, Android Developer Ecosystem manager Eric Chu promised Google would introduce an in-app payments solution during the current quarter, enabling shoppers to purchase virtual goods, additional gaming levels and so forth. In-app transactions have emerged as a primary source of developer revenues across Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) rival iOS platform: According to app store analytics firm Distimo, revenues generated by in-app purchases in free iPhone and iPad applications more than doubled during the latter half of 2010. In-app transactions across free and premium apps now account for 49 percent of iPhone developer revenues and 29 percent of iPad developer income.

Last month, Google introduced One Pass, a digital content subscription platform giving publishers the flexibility to establish their own pricing and conditions. As its name suggests, One Pass offers consumers a single sign-on email and password to purchase digital content across mobile applications and the web--according to Google, the service helps publishers authenticate existing subscribers so that readers don't have to re-subscribe to access their content across new devices. Google One Pass publisher partners can customize how and when they charge for content, trialing different pricing models including subscriptions, metered access, freemium or a la carte--publishers may also offer discounts to existing subscribers. Google will manage all transactions, employing Google Checkout to process payments.

UPDATE: Google subsequently clarified to TechCrunch the Jambool platform will support web-based in-app payments, not Android Market transactions.

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