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Google to launch Apple App Store alternative

Android Market to ship with Google smartphones

Google hopes to mimic the success of Apple's App Store with a similar service for its upcoming Android smartphone operating system (OS).

The company said the first Android-based phones, set to hit the market by the end of the year, will ship with the new Android Market service. Android Market, which will be available as a beta initially, will give smartphone owners access to free applications and, later, paid-for versions.

Like Apple's App Store for the iPhone, Android Market will accept submissions from external developers - a move Google hopes will increase the range of software available for the platform. Google's Eric Chu, who announced the plan, said users would be able to provide feedback on Android apps using a rating system similar to that used by YouTube. He said the process for submitting apps would also be similar to that used by the video-sharing site.

"Similar to YouTube, content can debut in the marketplace after only three simple steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe your content and publish it," wrote Chu in the blog. "We also intend to provide developers with a useful dashboard and analytics to help drive their business and ultimately improve their offerings."

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