Android, Buyer Currency Support C-

Thu, Feb 3, 2011 4-minute read

One of the new features announced by Google yesterday was support for “Buyer Currency” now this may come as something of a shock to iPhone users but chargeable apps in the Android Market have been billed in the developers currency since launch!

Yep thats right Google that multinational company that connects the whole world couldn’t solve a simple issue such that if I want to purchase an app from their app store written by a developer in say the USA (There are quite a few of them) then I have to pay for that App in US Dollars. Not a huge issue I thought at first, thankfully VISA manage to take care of letting me pay in any currency then debiting my UK bank account in GBP.

However my Bank helpfully see’s this ‘extra’ service as a highly valued commodity and levies a charge for this, not just a simple 1-2% of the amount charge but a fixed fee regardless of amount, now normally this wouldn’t be much of an issue walking into the Apple Store in downtown SF and dropping $1000 on a couple of iPads I don’t really mind paying with my UK card and the bank adding on a £1 charge. However when I’m buying a $0.99 app from Android Market I still get hit with the same £1 charge! I end up paying more to my bank in fees than I do for the app. Madness!

Now this has been one of my major complaints about the Android Market since launch, Google are the big player in the model and for their 30% cut of the takings they should be brokering the currency deals such that both the independent developer and the consumer don’t get a sucky experience.

However they didn’t, Its a bit like me going into Tesco and them saying yes your english apples will be billed in GBP but those strawberries were grown in Spain so will bill you for those in Euros, and the maple syrup thats canadian so Dollars there…..

Anyway Google have announced their solution yesterday and at best I’d rate it a C-

Their ‘solution’ is called Buyer Currency and its an option for developers to set a price in multiple currencies around the world. Yes thats right another thing the developer has to do in order to sell their app in Googles ‘global’ marketplace. Now I wonder how many developers will bother to go through and work our their pricing for each country, and how many will do that for all countries, as a Market I suspect that the GBP is a fairly small slice of the app store, most of the rest of Europe uses the Euro so I guess its reasonable to expect US developers to add that but GBP? How many will think of that?

And what about currency price changes? Do developers have to go in and adjust their pricing as rates rise and fall, will tech savvy consumers be able to hedge their app purchases based on the best current exchange rates?

Why Google, why? I know you like to be open and offer developers control but lets face it Apple have got this right and you’re wrong, right now I think very carefully before buying an app priced in anything other than GBP and the net result is that developers sell less apps. All you’ve done here is create an extra complication and workload for the developer, which right or wrong some developers won’t bother with and end result is the user looses out.

PS Yes I know I could blame the banks for adding the charge in the first place but lets face it they were there first and doing this long before the market came along, and yes I could switch accounts to someone that doesn’t add the charge but I like my bank, everything is with them and why should I change due to Googles failings.