Google denies app store payment policies have changed

Google denies any change to its Android Market payment policy
Image caption Google Play purchases must be made using Google Wallet

Google says it has made no changes to its Android Market payment policies.

This follows a Reuters report that Google threatened to remove developers' software from its store unless they accepted payments exclusively using its own payment service.

Google told the BBC its app distribution agreement had always made developers use Google Wallet.

But the internet search giant refused to say if it has started enforcing its payment rules more rigorously.

The story emerged just days after Android Market was merged into Google Play, an online store similar to Apple's iTunes. It offers music, movies and music as well as apps for its Android mobile phone operating system.

Todd Hooper, chief executive of Seattle-based Zipline Games, said that Google appeared to be changing its approach to payments.

"On Android it used to be laissez faire - you could use any payment provider you liked," he said.

"It's probably naive of developers to think they could keep choosing different payment providers."

Reuters reported that several developers that offered payment methods such as Paypal, Zong and Boku had been warned that their apps faced removal from Android Market.

An email sent by Google in August to a developer and obtained by Reuters said the developer had 30 days to comply, otherwise the developer's apps would be "suspended" from the market.

System 'benefits'

Unlike Apple, Google does not vet every app before it is made available for sale in its app store. That means that Google can normally enforce its policy after an app has appeared in the store.

Apple has taken a far stricter approach to app payments, insisting that all purchases are made using its iTunes payment system, including purchases of ebooks and magazine subscriptions.

"This is one of the things that has helped Apple succeed," said Charles Hudson of Bionic Panda Games, a San Francisco-based games company.

"Every single developer is using the Apple payment system. Google sees the benefits that provides for the Apple platform and wants to create a similar system."

Research in Motion, which makes Blackberry phones, allows multiple payment methods for apps sold in its Blackberry App World.

Google only permits alternative payment services for certain types of "in-app" transactions made using apps sold in its store. These include purchases of physical goods or digital content such as ebooks or movies.

These exceptions allow retailers such as Amazon to sell their goods from within their own apps without having to pay a cut to Google.

Developers are still free to sell applications using any payment methods that they want from alternative sites such as their own web-based stores.

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