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I would like to buy a game (well several copies of it really) for some of my friends for Christmas. Is there any way to do this? Would I have to rely on the publisher, or is there some way to "gift" apps from the market?

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As far as I know, there is no way to currently do this with the Android Market. They're missing a business opportunity here. I can't speak to other app stores, but even if they do have such a feature your friends would need to know how to side-load apk files. – Al E. Dec 23 '10 at 4:59
@Al: I concur, but I think you should add "Buy, send & side load" as an answer because it is a legit way to accomplish what he's asking and as far as I can see its the only way. – Matt Dec 23 '10 at 18:09
up vote 18 down vote accepted

Update: Google Play Gift Cards are now widely available in many countries. Thanks to @Chahk for reminding me to update.

Amazon has released their own Android Appstore which allow you to send Amazon gift cards that are redeemable for Android Apps. This requires a few extra steps, but should let you gift what you want to until this function gets added to the original Android Market Google Play Store.

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Do not use URL shorteners on this site, especially those that are to affiliate links. – Al E. Mar 25 '11 at 12:30
@al-everett Won't happen again. – thunsaker Mar 25 '11 at 16:00
And yet it's still an affiliate link – Basic Apr 11 '14 at 18:28
Looks like Amazon slipped an affiliate link in there, I removed my link and got a new url from another browser where I wasn't logged in, probably a default amazon affiliate tag. I'll go ahead and update it now, no sense in giving that referral code any more traffic. – thunsaker Apr 11 '14 at 18:45
Might want to also mention Google Play Gift Cards. I don't think these were available back when you originally posted the answer, but they're everywhere now (in several select countries that is). – Chahk Apr 11 '14 at 18:55

There is a feature request on Android's bug tracker for this. If you're intent on seeing this feature, click on the star.

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that feature request is clearly marked as WrongForum for a reason. Android’s bug tracker is about the open source development and has nothing to do with Google Play. please stop bugging the devs, they cannot help with this. – törzsmókus Jan 7 '15 at 8:35

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