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ComiXology recently released their own comic viewing app for Android devices. Could 2011 be the year digital comics take Android seriously?

“ComiXology is the leading distributor of digital comics, which is why we have partnered with them to power our iOS app and Web Store,” said Hank Kanalz, Senior Vice President of Digital DC Entertainment. “The release of its Android app shows the company’s ongoing commitment to expand into new markets, create opportunities for increased visibility and revenue, while above all, answer the call of its fans for convergence across platforms with a centralized library to enjoy comics anywhere.”

Google’s Android operating system is gaining tremendous ground in its competition against the iPhone but it still doesn’t offer many official digital comic book reading apps. The comiXology release offers access to 37 publishers Including DC but not Marvel.

Marvel has its own iPhone app and we can read Marvel digital comics on three different Apple devices. Sony’s PSP has digital comics as well. Even if the iPhone becomes available on the other networks and is a huge success, the amount of handsets running Android is huge. Over 50 different phones currently on all carriers and growing. Along with a number of tablet devices slated to be released next year that run android, a very large market exists no matter iPhone’s dominance. Some reports state that Android has already overtaken iPhone in market share and others claim it is only a matter of time until Android does, so even the iPhone dominance has been in question. So why no app for Android? With Marvel the clear leader in digital content I have to imagine DC also has no plans of their own official app as they have allowed distribution via the comiXology app. If I would like to read Marvel comics on my Android handset I have been forced to download .cbr files and read the pirated comic. Not only is this process time consuming but it also leads to a lot of illegal downloads by fans.

Several companies are planning a digital assault this coming year. The one thing they are all promising is the Android support that has been lacking. The ComiXology release is a huge step. Darkhorse Comics announced an Android app due out this month. Graphic.ly has stated an Android app in addition to their Apple, Adobe AIR and even Google Chrome powered comic viewers. LongBox Digital is planning on offering a similar digital distribution service and is also looking beyond Apple devices. Android is in their sights as well.

Diamond distributors could prove the biggest move to digital. Though development is in early stages, the world’s largest distributor of English-language comics, graphic novels, and related pop-culture merchandise will be going digital. Also online indie publishers are taking advantage of not having to compete with Marvel Android. Indie digital comic publisher Robot Comics is using this Marvel absence to bolster sales on the Android market. Releasing more original comic titles every month across multiple platforms with an emphasis on Android.

With a fast-growing market for handheld gadgets and content to fill them, it’s Darkhorse’s choice to include Android could be the start of a very big digital comic year for the operating system. It will be only a matter of time before Marvel comes around and makes the hand held digital comic book market a legitimate place for nearly all consumers to purchase their favorite titles.

With phones an app for Apple is almost always a given. Now with so many companies looking to compete digitally in Android, 2011 looks like the beginning of the real digital comic market for those not using Apple products. Many customers, myself included, are looking at new handsets. The ability to read comics via phone plays a large part in the choice of what new device to commit to. Phones, tablets and even gaming devices all provide screen space and dollars to stake a claim on. Starting with carving up the Android phone market and ComiXology is in the lead.

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