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Google Play now lets businesses host their own app stores

Google announced Tuesday that companies with their own in-house Android applications can now distribute them internally via the new Private Channel feature of the Play Store.

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"Whether you've built a custom expense reporting app for employees or a conference room finder, the Google Play Private Channel is designed to make your organization's internal apps quick and easy for employees to find. Once your company has loaded these internal apps using the Google Play Developer Console, users just need to log in with their company email address to browse the Private Channel and download apps," said Google Play product manager Ellie Powers in an official blog post.

The system is controlled via the aforementioned Developer Console, which allows administrators to choose which users are allowed to upload apps to the private channel, and which have download access. A support article on the new feature recommends that dedicated administrative Google accounts be created, so that access isn't lost if a key employee leaves the company. A $25 publisher registration fee is required, and the functionality is currently restricted to Google Apps for Business, Education or Government customers.

The Google Play Private Channel could be an important differentiator for Android in the business world, where it lags behind rival iOS. A survey from enterprise mobility firm Good Technology published earlier this year found that the iPhone was easily the most popular new business smartphone on the market at that time. Google has subsequently made progress in this area, though the general state of the market hasn't changed appreciably.

Email Jon Gold at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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