Smartphone manufacturer Samsung has tied up with two Indian telecom companies – Aircel and Vodafone to introduce mobile operator billing for its Samsung Apps Store.
Popularly known as carrier billing, this option will allow users to pay for the apps and games bought from Samsung’s homegrown app store through their mobile bill instead of credit cards.
In a country like India, where mobile penetration is very high and millions of people lack credit cards, this feature will not only make the process much more convenient and accessible to users, it will also help developers boost the sales of their apps and games. Of over 900 million mobile subscriptions in India, Aircel and Vodafone have a combined market share of about 25%.
However, there is a catch as well. Introducing a carrier intermediary to the cycle does affect the profit margin of the developer. The operator could impose high charges for providing carrier billing services. But this is usually the case with developed nations.
“Given the poor credit card penetration in the country, we are positive that this move will be welcomed by customers,” said Tarun Malik, Director of Media Solutions Center-South West Asia, Samsung Electronics.
As of now, Samsung has kept this feature limited to Samsung Apps Store, which comes pre-installed on every Samsung smartphone, and has tied up with only two operators. However, Samsung said that it will soon open to other operators as well.
Samsung isn’t the only company which is shaking hands with mobile operators. Earlier this month, at a Windows Phone 8.1 event, Vineet Durani, Microsoft India Director for Windows Phone category announced that the company is in talks with leading mobile operators to bring operator billing option for its Windows Phone Store.
It will be interesting to see how it all turns out this time around. Back in 2012, Vodafone had shut its App Store on account of availability of too many app stores. Airtel too launched its own store in 2010, but it didn’t quite fare well.
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