Bill pay can be a hassle, especially when you’re downloading apps and not able to pay with a few clicks. To resolve this for Android, carriers can give the option to their consumers to easily charge their Android Market purchases to their monthly bills with the new Direct Carrier Billing application for Android. More after the jump.
The latest move in this space allows consumers on Sprint’s U.S. network to bill all Android Marketplace purchases directly to their Sprint accounts. This is a much faster way to pay and creates a better experience for roughly 3.5 million Android users on Sprint’s network. Similar deals took place in December 2010 when AT&T and T-Mobile began offering direct billing options for Android to their own consumers. Verizon, which has over 14 million Android users in the U.S., does not have such deals in place yet.
“We believe that Direct Carrier Billing is a key payment option because it lets users purchase and pay for apps more easily,” Android’s Eric Chu said in a Wednesday blog post announcing the Sprint roll out. “It’s also important because it offers a convenient way to buy in regions where credit cards are less common.”
Major Japanese mobile networks have also begun offering direct carrier billing for Android. In Japan many of the purchases at convenience stores and vending machines occur using mobile devices already, making it a nice fit.
Google has been pushing to launch in-app Android purchases and recently made an announcement that they will offer official support for in app purchases using existing Google Market account vs using Zong or Paypal accounts. Google has been prying for control recently, putting pressure on handset makers and carriers to adhere to a ‘non-fragmentation clause’ that puts the final approval power in Google’s hands.
Android’s openness has been a key factor in driving adoption among handset manufacturers and carriers. However, the customization capabilities increases fragmentation that makes it difficult for game developers to launch their games properly on all Android handsets.
Regardless, in-app purchases will be a key driver of revenues for many game developers. Gameview, a division of Japan’s DeNA, launched the free version of Tap Fish and gained over 500,000 downloads with no promotional activity. The game recently surpassed Angry Birds Rio by taking the #4 spot in the Android Market’s top free apps list. Although monetization plans have not yet been implemented, in-app purchases will be added over time. These in-app purchases, however, would only be available to users of Android 2.3 software – a tiny percentage of current Android users. Once more and more people are capable of purchasing, we will see other companies begin to roll out in-app purchases on Android as well.