It is hard to believe, but Google has introduced a developer signup fee to make the browser much safer (?). From now, if a developer wants to publish his extension, theme or app (Chrome App Store coming soon) in the official extension gallery – he is required to pay developer signup fee, which is one-time payment of $5. Google announced this today in a post on official Chromium blog, and claimed this as an important improvement to the security of the gallery.
Though this developer fee is not applicable for the developers who are already registered, and only new developers will have to pay this amount. Google has also introduced “Domain verification” – which enables developers to associate their extensions and apps with the domain names they own. It help users to identify “official” extensions in the gallery.
Well, I will take these changes as a curse for all hard working independent developers. These changes have their own pro and cons. For example, if you are a developer and have created a wonderful extension for the users of a website, say xyz.com, which is better than the official extension developed by the owners of xyz.com – it is more likely that a common user will not even install your extension! Yes, the common users are generally much influenced by the labels like “Verified” or “Official”.
I had created (and still maintain) a small extension, gPDF (now hosted here), even before the existence of Chrome extension gallery. The extension was much appreciated by the user community and, I was much excited about developing some more useful tools. But later, Google introduced Chrome extension gallery and its own similar extension with the “official” tag. And as expected, …….
Well, this is not a single story. Many independent and talented developers (specially from countries like India, who don’t have credit card to pay the signup fee) will be affected by this move. Of course, there is another possibility: the owners of xyz.com can hire you or buy your extension!