Exclusive By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Australia has joined the US and other European nations in having paid applications available on the Android Market.

The system went live on Wednesday night, with applications appearing in both Pounds Sterling and US dollars. US prices ranged from just 99 cents to $6.99. The most expensive UK application Current could find was 2.50 pounds.

Purchasing is only available via Visa, MasterCard or Amex, meaning Australians will also be slugged a conversion fee by their card provider, as well as being at the mercy of exchange rates. Once the card details are entered they are saved by Google Checkout for future transactions.

The move to paid apps means Australian Android users can access higher-end applications, or complete versions of trials they may have downloaded for free.

It also puts Android Market in line with Apples App Store, which has offered paid applications since its inception.

Whether the move will mean large game developers move to Android Market, as they have to App Store, is yet to be seen. However, with a growing Android user base and at least 10 new Android phones due before the end of year worldwide, that would seem to be inevitable.

HTC Australia marketing director, Anthony Petts, said the move “broadened the base of applications” for Android phones and meant “more choice” for consumers.