Android phones to get new online Android Market: report

A Web-based Android Market will reportedly be unveiled by Google this week.

Android phones could soon be linked up to a web-based Android Market, according to one new report.

Android phones are popular. So popular, in fact, that by Q4 of 2010, handsets equipped with Android OS were shipping even faster than handsets equipped with the Nokia Symbian operating system. But what Android phone owners still lack is a comprehensive, web-based applications marketplace of their own – a fully-functioning online store like the Apple App Store, where users can search and download apps.

Until now. (Maybe.) According to the tech site Android and Me, Google will take the wraps off the completed, web-based Android Market on Wednesday, at a press event on the Google campus in California. Android and Me quotes a "regular source" as saying that the online Android Market will be "on par" with the "Apple App Store or even better." Which seems plausible enough.

As we noted earlier this week, Android is now the most popular mobile operating system in the world, surpassing for the first time Nokia's Symbian OS. (Symbian previously held the top slot thanks to stellar oversea sales.) That data comes from the British research firm Canalys, which reports that shipments of Android-powered handsets reached 32.9 million in Q4 of 2010, compared to 31 million Symbian units, and 16 million handsets powered by Apple's iOS 4.

But without a comprehensive web-based app marketplace, Android can't really rival the accessibility and intuitiveness of the Apple iPhone app experience. (Android Market come preinstalled on the majority of Android phones, but the current Android Market website remains really only a "showcase" for Android apps.)

A rejiggered Android Market would change that. Right? Drop us a line in the comments section below.

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