Google Gives Android Market a New Look (Spoiler: It’s Less Pukey)

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An update to the Android Market is on the way, with less sickly pea green than ever before.

The Android Market redesign is meant to emphasize movies and books alongside apps and games. Each type of media gets its own fat rectangle on the Market home page, with extra blocks for featured content on the sides and on top. It looks like a major improvement over the existing Android Market, which used a rotating carousel to display featured apps — backed by large swaths of the aforementioned sickly green.

(LIST: Top 20 Must-Have Android Apps)

All sections of the Market have their own slot for featured content, and Google is adding a staff picks section to help users find decent apps. Navigation is also improved, letting users swipe through various sorting options, such as top paid, top free and top grossing apps.

Google desperately needed to redesign the Android Market, and not just to accommodate movies and books. A damning study from IHS Screen Digest showed that Android accounted for only 4.7 percent of revenue among all mobile app stores in 2010, compared to 82.7 percent for Apple’s App Store. Even Blackberry’s App World and Nokia’s Ovi Store pulled in more revenue than the Android Market, the report said.

Premium app developers will continue to favor Apple’s platform unless Google can address that gap. Overhauling the Android Market is a start.

But what the Android Market still needs is a way to reduce friction on paid purchases. Whereas Apple was clever enough to require credit card information from users at the outset, Google doesn’t ask for any payment information unless the user tries to buy a paid app. That creates a mental barrier for users, leading to the stigma that Android users don’t buy apps. The Android Market is a big enough attraction now that Google could demand credit card information when the user first accesses the Market.

Either way, I’m glad the Android Market is getting a new look. It’s rolling out to phones with Android 2.2 and higher in the coming weeks.

MORE: Android Market Apps: Buy from a Computer, Download to a Phone