Android Market remains baffling bazaar

Backers of the Android mobile operating system today acknowledged they needed to do more to promote applications, as Apple extended its lead with the iPhone to more than 100,000 apps now available in its App Store.

That’s 15,000 more than the last update of 85,000…and the growth is more than the total number of Android apps – 12,000 – created in the past year.

At the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco today, Cole Brodman, T-Mobile chief technology officer, said discoverability of apps on Android represented a challenge for consumers.

T-Mobile has been Android’s biggest supporter among carriers, being the first to introduce a handset – the HTC G1, which has since been joined by HTC’s myTouch.

According to usage trends, about half of myTouch users visit the Android Market on their phones at least once a day, he said.

But, while the Market is similar in its features to the App Store on the iPhone and iPod touch, I find it suffers from lacking client software like iTunes, where apps are easier to discover and buy on a larger computer screen.

Market does have a web site, but applications cannot be bought and information on programs is scanty.

Mr Brodman said T-Mobile had created and recently refreshed an AppPack on Android Market  – a collection of 34 recommended apps. By the end of the month, it will have its own channel, although it has been beaten to this by Verizon on the Droid phone.

A more useful feature is that it will soon include carrier billing, making it easier to purchase paid apps.

All of this should help Android grow, but the inability of Android phones to sync to a PC or Mac program like iTunes remains a key weakness of the platform.