Android Market Now Offers AT&T Direct Carrier Billing

by Gaurav Kheterpal on December 23, 2010

Google is leaving no stone unturned to gain the upper hand in the coveted “Android Market vs. Apple App Store” battle as we head into year 2011. Earlier this month, it gave the Android Market experience a major facelift to improve merchandising of applications, streamline the browse-to-purchase experience, and make it easier for developers to distribute their applications.

In July, the company updated the Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement (DDA) to facilitate carrier billing in order to replicate the hassle-free payment experience offered by iTunes. Google yesterday announced the availability of AT&T Direct Carrier Billing for Android users on the AT&T network.

As a result of this move, AT&T subscribers will not longer be required to manually enter their credit card information to buy apps using the standard Google Checkout process. Better late than never – is all I can say!

Google has been quiet vocal about its plans to provide “More Payment Options” in Android Market. Several rumors suggested that Google is working aggressively to add PayPal as an option in Android Market. PayPal even announced Android Market Payment Support on its blog, only to withdraw it within a matter of few minutes.

Until yesterday, T-Mobile was the only United States carrier to enjoy carrier billing benefits on Android Market. With AT&T joining the fray, Google would expect Android Market sales in the U.S. to get a major boost. Sprint was also expected to support carrier billing but that hasn’t happened as yet. There’s no official word on whether Verizon plans to join the “carrier billing” party or not as it anyway provides the same on in its V Cast Apps store. Google says that it will continue to partner with more carriers to offer carrier billing options for their subscribers.

It’s a major convenience for AT&T Android users as they can now buy applications and add the cost to their mobile bills. Though Google Checkout has gained significant traction this year, it’s still a bit of a hassle for newbies and less tech-savvy Android users. Moreover, there are several developed countries which still do not support Google Checkout, the carrier billing route would be a blessing in disguise for Android Market in those geographies.

At the same time, it’s a strategic move on AT&T’s part to counter the loss of iPhone exclusivity with an aggressive Android roadmap. A year back, the Apple iPhone was AT&T’s trump card and Verizon countered it with an army of Android devices. The roles look set to be reversed in 2011 with the Verizon iPhone looming and AT&T going all guns blazing in support of Android.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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