Google today issued an update that allows developers with apps on the Android operating system to sell content from within their apps for the first time.
Apple's iOS system for iPhone and iPad has featured in-app billing since 2009, so this is an important step for Android to stay competitive. Already popular apps such as Tap Tap Revenge 3-which rely on in-app content sales as central to their business model-have begun appearing in the Android Marketplace.
Bolstering their efforts is a forecast from IDC that puts Android as the leading smartphone operating system worldwide by the end of this year.
"For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was Android's 'coming-out party,'" while 2011 will be the "coronation party," senior research analyst Ramon Llamas wrote in a statement unveiling the research.
The company says Android will capture a 39.5% market share this year, and grow to 45.4% by 2015. Apple's iOS for the iPhone is third at 15.7%, behind the soon-to-disappear Symbian platforms, which Nokia has discarded in favor of its deal with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7. Interestingly, IDC predicts Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system will rank second behind Android by 2015 with a 20.9% share (from 5.5% today) thanks to the Nokia deal.
The overall smartphone market is expected to increase 49.2% this year as well, good news for all manufacturers, which is actually lower than last year's 74%. That's to be expected, though, as part of normal market maturation. Overall smartphone sales should reach 450 million, compared to last' years 303 million, according to IDC.