Developer Tony Kay, whose two apps, Color Pop and Twistype, are top-ranked on the Android Market, told CNET UK sister site ZDNet Asia that the showcase for apps is lacking compared to Apple's offering.
One example he gave was that developers cannot upload screenshots to market their apps. He also mentioned the 325-letter limit for the app description, "which is woefully inadequate for everything except an alarm clock".
Kay noted that the Android Market Web site also lists a smaller selection of apps than what mobile users can see. It highlights just a few per cent of the most-downloaded apps, hiding the majority of available apps from users browsing from a PC, he said. He explained that Android users do not have this issue if they browse the site via their mobile devices.
This prevents non-Android users, or those who prefer to search online on their PCs, from browsing available apps, he noted.
Kay said this "complete disassociation" of the Web site from the phone is also evident in the lack of integration -- users cannot purchase an app from their PCs, while iPhone users can via Apple's iTunes platform.
Android Market also tends to sort free apps at the top, burying paid-for apps from view, because the site doesn't distinguish free from paid-for apps and sorts them by download count, he said.
Comparing Apple's iTunes and mobile App Store with the Android Market, he said: "There are screenshots, tonnes of text space, room for marketing images, and the ability to window shop from any computer with iTunes, purchase an app and later install it on your phone."
Kay's observations were echoed in a blog post from Larva Lab's Matt Hall. The Android game maker has not enjoyed any windfalls from the Android Market, despite selling two of the platform's top-ranked games.
Some of Hall's complaints about Android Market also highlight the lack of screenshots and difficulty in finding paid-for apps. The option to show paid-for apps is buried in a sub-menu, he said.
Revenues nowt to shout about
Kay said revenues generated by his apps on the Android platform pale in comparison to earnings from the iPhone.
While some top-ranked Android games have earned $20,000 (£12,000) a month in the early months, this is a much smaller figure than the six- and seven-figure numbers registered on the iPhone platform, he said.
Kay's paid-for apps have garnered 4.5 stars out of five in the user ratings and held top billing for about half a year, although he said he "just barely cracked minimum wage for the time [he] spent". Sales are "relatively steady, but nothing to shout about", he added.
Another developer, Dan Syrstad, has a paid-for app called AlphaMixr that's also one of the top-rated games on the Android Market. Syrstad said the app pulls in about $25 per day. He added that he will be announcing other apps "to compensate" for the shortfall.
Developers want direct billing
Another issue highlighted by Hall is Google's Checkout process, which requires users to input a credit-card number to buy an app, instead of billing the amount directly to their mobile plan. This lengthier process, compared to that of the iPhone, acts against impulse buys, said Hall.
Syrstad agreed. "People don't want to whip out their credit card and type in all of the information to spend $0.99 to $2.99."
Citing analytics he conducted to track the number of clicks on the 'buy full game' button, he said "hundreds of people a day" have the intention of buying the app's full version but drop out during the checkout process. He blamed the issue on the lack of a streamlined checkout method.
"We need direct carrier billing or something similar," Syrstad said. "You want the user to say 'I want this app', maybe enter a password, and that's it."
T-Mobile is looking to launch a direct billing service for its US customers, which will allow Android app purchases to show up in customers' mobile bills. T-Mobile currently uses the Google Checkout process for its Android devices.
A Google spokesperson said the recently announced updates that will be coming with Android 1.6 aim to address these issues.
Google said: "We've made significant changes to the user interface to make it easier for users to find both paid and free applications. We are also currently exploring additional payment options to make it easier for users to purchase applications."
The update to Android Market also appears to be aimed at addressing some of the aesthetic complaints, by including longer descriptions and screenshots.