Putting an application on the Android Market is remarkably easy. The only prerequisite is that you have a Google account such as a Gmail account. A $25 credit card transaction and some information about yourself are all you need to start uploading applications to the Android Market. Charging for applications and getting paid takes only slightly more information and effort—you don’t even need a website or a corporate entity. (Consulting a lawyer before selling products is a good idea. A lawyer may suggest setting up a corporation and other ways to protect your personal assets from liabilities resulting from commercial activities.)
The Android Market site is where you become an official Android developer. You can sign up at http://market.android.com/publish/signup.
This site will ask you for identifying information, and will ask you to pay a $25 fee using Google Checkout. This transaction confirms that you have a method of payment, such as a credit card, accepted by Google Checkout. Once you are signed up as a developer, you can use your Google account to log in to the Android Market site.
At this point, Google has reasonable assurance that you are who you say you are: a financial transaction linked to some entity that can pay off a credit card bill. This, combined with the fact that your applications are signed, means Google is also confident that the key you created to sign your applications is in the possession of the person who created the Android Market account for the purpose of uploading applications to the Android Market. If you turn out to be a spammer or a source of badware, you will be shut down, and you will need to find another identity with which to create another Google Checkout account and Android Market account.
The page https://market.android.com/publish/Home#AppEditorPlace is where you upload applications. On it, you will see the latest requirements, and options, for providing information about your application. The page has upload buttons for the application’s .apk file, plus screenshots, videos, and similar content, most of which is optional. When you have an application you would like to leave up on the Market for others to download, you should read the descriptions of the kinds of promotional and explanatory material you can upload, and make use of them. For now, let’s get our app up with the minimum requirements met.
The first thing to do is to upload an .apk file. To try it out, you can use the .apk file you created if you followed along in Using a self-signed certificate to sign an application. Don’t worry that this is not your application, and that it is just an example. You can publish it and then unpublish it right away, as you will see from the instructions in the rest of this section.
Most required information is either part of your profile as an Android developer, or part of the application manifest. As of this writing, the required uploads are two screenshots and an icon image. You will find usable images in the doc folder of the example project. If these requirements change—and the Android Market has changed substantially since it was first introduced—you will find out if you have skipped any required fields or uploads when you click the Publish button at the bottom of the page. Anything you missed will be highlighted, and you can go back and fill in fields or perform uploads as needed to make your application ready for publication.
Congratulations, you have published an Android application. If you go back to https://market.android.com/publish/Home, you will see from the listing of applications that you have one published application (if you have not previously published an application). If you go to https://market.android.com and search for, say, your name, the search function should find the application you just published and list it the way a potential customer might see it if he were to find it in the Android Market. From there, you can click through to the application’s page in the Android Market.
Now you can go back to the “Home” page where your application is listed and select it by clicking on the link in the listing. This takes you to a page where the information you entered when you published your app is displayed in such a way that you can modify it and update the application’s listing. You can also unpublish your application from this page, using the Unpublish button at the bottom of the page. Whew! You thought you might start getting customer support inquiries!
An application that has been unpublished is not removed from the market system. It is still listed among your applications, but is not made available for download. You can reverse your decision to unpublish at any time by using the Publish button.
If you elect to be a publisher of paid applications, you will be directed to a page where you can create a “merchant account.” This may sound a bit intimidating, but Google has made it easy to get paid. You don’t need to form a corporation or get a business bank account.
The process of getting a merchant account amounts to entering some more information—most importantly your tax ID, which can be your Social Security number—so that income from your sales can be reported.
Getting paid involves linking a bank account to your Google Checkout merchant account. Payments to Google Checkout for sales of your app will be deposited in your bank account. A full description of terms of service, payment terms, and similar information can be found in the sellers’ section of the Google Checkout site, at http://checkout.google.com/support/sell/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=113730.