Android Market goes for-pay this week?

That's the rumor, based on the very last line of a Wall St. Journal article examining Microsoft's mobile strategy. The Android Market has been up and running since the first Google Android-based phone debuted from HTC and T-Mobile, but until now, it supported only free apps. Google has always planned to offer paid apps via the Market, however, so if the rumors are true, it looks like the Android app gold rush is about to take off.

What gives the report some credibility is that T-Mobile is in the process of disseminating Version 1.1 of the firmware for the G1, an update that includes improvements to the Android Market. As Mobile Burn's Brian James Kirk says in his post on the matter:

The carrier hopes to finish the update process by Feb. 15. In January, Google's Eric Chu recommended that developers begin finalizing priced applications for "early" Q1 2009 release.

And those dates align just about perfectly with the "this week" mentioned by the WSJ. Apple's App store has always offered for-pay apps, and until now, the number and range of apps for the iPhone have simply dwarfed those designed just for the G1. Once Android gets some paid apps in place, however, it may just change the dynamic and let the G1 start giving the iPhone a run for its money--literally.

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