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Google ratchets up Apple rivalry with Android market, Honeycomb for tablets

Google's rivalry with Apple heated up Wednesday as the Internet search giant unveiled its new online market for mobile applications that run on devices powered by its Android software.

Android The new Android store lets consumers buy and install applications on mobile devices through an Internet browser, rather than just on their devices, the company said during an event at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. The new app market is located at Market.Android.com.

Google also said that software developers would be able to create Android applications that charge users for purchases they make in the applications of items such as virtual goods, a feature already available on Apple devices. Many developers have complained that they were not able to get attention for their applications or make money on Android.

Google also briefly teased its music service but did not discuss it in detail or say when it would be released.

Google made the announcements during an event to showcase its new version of its mobile operating system codenamed Honeycomb. Google is giving Honeycomb to hardware manufacturers for free in hopes of creating a fleet of tablets to compete with Apple's iPad, which leads the tablet market. Motorola is expected to release its Xoom tablet with Honeycomb software later this month.

Can Google compete with Apple in tablet computers the way it did in smart phones?

Global shipments of tablets more than doubled in the fourth quarter, with tablets sporting Google's Android taking market share from Apple's iPad, according to research Strategy Analytics.

"A lot of this is catch-up. But Google knows how to close the gap," BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said. "Now we will have to see what Apple brings to market."

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-- Jessica Guynn

 
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