Vodafone has entered into an operator billing agreement with Google for Android apps. It will enable Vodafone subscribers to purchase applications without the need to pay through credit card. The cost of the apps purchased will be deducted from the prepaid balance or will be added to the postpaid bill.
“We have done a deal that covers the global footprint,” Tobin Ireland, Vodafone’s commercial development director, said in an interview to Bloomberg.
The company also held talks with Microsoft for a similar deal for Windows Phone 7, he said.
We had earlier carried a news that Vodafone is in talks with Nokia for Ovi store billing, which was denied by both the companies. However, now it’s seems that they have been in talks with not just Nokia but all other players like Android and Windows.
Operator billing not just helps consumer buy applications without much hassle but also encourages impulsive buying, increasing the consumption of paid applications. The operators benefit by getting a cut (a part apps’ price) and also by offering a unique service they can retain subscribers.
Vodafone India spokesperson was non committal on the issue saying they have not got any directions so far about the development.
Currently, only Reliance offers operator billing for the Ovi Store of Nokia. Most service providers including Reliance Communication, Airtel, Aircel and Idea have their own application stores for which the operator billing is available. However, these application stores are much smaller in comparison to the like of Android Market or Ovi store and will give a huge advantage to Vodafone when it starts offering the billing service as currently the Android platform is the fastest growing operating system in the country.
Though Android users mostly download free applications, with the addition of in-app purchase feature there will definitely be a surge in paid users category as well.