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Vodafone deals charges Android apps to phone bills

Google is finally addressing the disorder of the Android Market experience, teaming up with Vodafone to allow consumers to buy apps and add the cost to their phone bill or taken off their prepay balance.

The Register reports that the objective is to encourage more app purchases without needing to take credit card details, but also to “increase the barriers to entry for Marketplace competitors”. Operators favour this kind of billing because they retain control of user information, and though it is likely others will follow suit it is also surprising it took so long for Google to set this up.

Photo by jonoakley on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Part of Apple’s success in pushing apps to the masses was in using the existing iTunes Store model to manage payments, which encouraged consumers to try out apps on a device they were already familiar with and without having to sign up for a new payment system.

The plethora of Android phones have never had that advantage, and the Android Market has, in my experience, been a far less reliable platform on which to consume apps.

A straw poll of the four geeks on our desk revealed not one Android app between us that wasn’t free. When we tried to pay on our different devices, there was no prompt to sign in to Checkout – just a “server error” message. Not a small mistake in a fiercely competitive market.

Teaming up with operators will route round that kind of of basic interface error and help make Android apps slightly more accessible and mainstream, but it’s a long overdue move. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds