Google Play seen as pivotal to success of Nexus 7

Google rolls out app developer console, urges creation of more tablet-based apps

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Yerga urged developers to find ways to reach audiences outside of the U.S., by using Google's auto-translation tool to translate apps and app-promotional materials into foreign languages. Foursquare, a location-based social networking website and app, found through a user-generated location database that half of its users spoke 12 languages and were located outside of the U.S.

Foreign-based Google Play customers could indeed prove to be essential to the success of many future Google products, including the Nexus 7.

Two-thirds of all purchases in Google Play are from outside the U.S., Yerga said. Google Play also has the highest average revenue per user of any of the app stores, he added, without giving any details. Also, more Android devices are sold outside of the U.S. than inside the U.S.

Analysts said the foreign success of Google Play and Android is probably due in part to the U.S. success of iTunes and the Apple App Store, which had a head start on Android Market and Google Play. "ITunes has such a big lead here [in the U.S.] that it's probable that, competitively, Play does better in other countries," noted Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates.

Overall, analysts said Google's new developer console for Google Play and its advice to developers on improving tablet apps should make a difference, even though Google still faces strong competition from Apple and Amazon.

"Trying to make things easier for developers with the new console and encouraging them to build tablet apps makes sense, and those are exactly the things Google should be doing," Gillett said Thursday. "Will developers build the compelling tablet apps, and will there be enough tablet devices in the field to use the apps? So far that's not the case."

Gillett added: "The Nexus 7 is a nice target device for Google Play, and Google is there to brand it and promote it. All of what they're doing sounds good, but will it be enough? There's not enough evidence to say it will be enough."

Gillett admitted that he is a "long-term skeptic of Android success on the tablet." The steps that Google takes to help developers, including offering them free Nexus 7 tablets and Nexus Q devices to try out Android 4.1 won't change the current reality, however.

"Google faces an uphill effort in tablets, since they are squeezed by the iPad and Kindle Fire and the upcoming Microsoft Surface tablets," Gillett said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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