Google will hand out $10 million in prizes to developers who build the best applications for the company's new open source mobile platform, Android.

Google said it hopes to spark innovation with the Android Developer Challenge, announced yesterday at the same time it released the Android software development kit.

The prizes will be divided into awards of $25,000 to $275,000, and given to developers who can win over Google's panel of judges.

Developers can submit applications between 2 January and 3 March next year. The 50 best will receive $25,000 to fund further development. In May 2008, the 10 best will be given $275,000 each, and the next ten $100,000 each. A second challenge will be launched in the second half of next year after the first handsets built on Android hit the market.

Google is throwing money around by the millions these days to spur research in various fields. In September, the company announced it will give a $20 million prize to spacecraft builders who can successfully land a ship on the moon and transmit data back to Earth.