Apr 22, 2013
Google has been slowly rolling out version 4.0 of Google Play, with a redesigned user experience. Google is far more willing to tinker with Google Play than Apple with the App Store, who have made only one major change since launching the store in 2008. Plus, Google’s store is actually a native app as opposed to the embedded web views that Apple uses with the App Store. It’s just a better experience, one definite advantage for Google Play over the App Store.
But there’s one area where Google Play continues to lag behind the App Store, and it’s something that consumers aren’t directly touched by, though they play a role in it: taxes.
See, Apple, for apps sold on the App Store, they’ll handle paying taxes to the various local and national governments that demand a cut. It’s essentially part of the 30% fee that Apple takes from developers, that Apple will handle that.
Now, Google takes that same 30% cut, but that’s basically just to get on the store – by default, they don’t do the kind of tax handling that Apple does. Essentially, 30% gets you distribution on Google Play, and that’s it. Individual developers have to give their cut to governments on their own – and considering that there’s 50 states and many countries on Google Play, it’s difficult for small firms.
I’ve spoken to developers who have been nervous about this – going legal would be nearly impossible for a small team. One such solution has been to just make their apps ad-supported on Google Play, which solves that problem by only having to report revenue from the ad provider, seemingly, but limits apps’ revenue opportunities, especially with in-app purchases, and limits premium apps. It’s something that Google should make easy for developers, and yet it remains a difficult experience.
Developers have it hard enough on Android, what with all the hardware permuatations to support. Google needs to make it as easy as possible to be on Android for developers. It has a direct consumer impact too: if developers are more willing to make software available for Android, then there’s more reasons for people to come to the platform (or remain on it) and to spend money. In the world of iOS and Android, Google is not doing the job they could be at making Android the attractive choice that it should be.