Mobile app store GetJar has unveiled a new program that serves up certain premium Android apps for free.
Looking to grab business from other app stores, GetJar's new Gold service specifically offers several Android apps for free that would cost some dough at Google's Android Market and Amazon's Appstore. The current crop of apps include some that can run as much as $4.99 elsewhere.
Right now, only about 40 such apps are available, but GetJar said that it's been introducing new apps every day in addition to the ones currently on the site. The company added that it "carefully selects" the best apps from among different popular categories, including games, entertainment, and productivity.
Some of the free apps now being offered are Age of Zombies, which costs $3.16 through Google and $2.99 through Amazon; Solo, which is priced at $3.99 at Google's Android Market; and Splashtop Remote Desktop, which runs $4.99 through both Google and Amazon.
To compensate the developers, GetJar said that it pays them on a per-install basis and noted that the free apps give them more exposure since such apps are downloaded 10 to 20 times more frequently than are paid apps.
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iPhone users, unfortunately, are out of luck, as the Gold service is aimed only at Android.
"We are able to develop programs like GetJar Gold because of our open and free business model," GetJar CEO and founder Ilja Laurs said in a statement. "We regret that at this time we cannot extend our program to iPhone users, as Apple runs a closed ecosystem that does not allow for competing app distributors like GetJar. Unfortunately, iPhone users will have to continue paying for the very same apps that their Android counterparts enjoy for free."
GetJar provides apps for most of the major smartphone platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. iPhone users can't grab apps directly from GetJar due to Apple's closed system, but the site does display iPhone apps and redirects users to Apple's App Store to download them.
Offering around 150,000 apps and more than 2 billion downloads to date, GetJar has aggressively been trying to expand its mobile site, picking up $11 million in financing last year and another $25 million this past February. The company has been pushing especially hard to offer itself as an alternative app store for Android users.