Android Market purchases soon billable to more carriers?

July 25, 2010: 11:47 AM ET

Changes to the developer agreement may signal a new means of paying for apps in Google's mobile OS.

On Friday, Internet legend Tim Bray announced on the Android developer blog big changes to the Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement (DDA):

Please note that we have updated the Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement (DDA). This is in preparation for some work we're doing on introducing new payment options, which we think developers will like.

In the spirit of transparency, we wanted to highlight the changes:

  • In Section 13.1, "authorized carriers" have been added as an indemnified party.

What does "which we think developers will like" mean?

T-Mobile, as with a lot of things Android, was the first carrier to sign up to be a payment processor last December.  I think this particular change in the DDA was needed by Verizon/Sprint/AT&T before they'd sign on as payment processing partners.

I'm not so sure what kind of impact more direct to carrier billing will have on Android Market purchasers.  It doesn't seem like a huge inconvenience to put your credit card into the Market and a credit card is where most carrier bills are going to end up anyway.

Perhaps this will simplify (or complicate?) purchases for business customers who can purchase business related apps directly to their business.

In any case more options means more purchases which is good for developers.

This may not be a customer motivated move, however.  It might be directed at the carriers.  The carriers currently take the leftovers from the developers' 70% and Google's payment processing.   If the carriers do payment processing too, this means that they get all of the leftover 30% of Android Market revenues.  This could mean some additional revenue for carriers and another incentive to carry Android phones.

As a background, Andy Rubin (who leads the Android project at Google) also built T-Mobile's Sidekick with the first App Store (Catalog).  That store billing was done only through the carrier, T-Mobile. Danger, developers and T-Mobile shared the revenues from the sale of those apps.

So, expect an announcement in a month that other US and perhaps some International carriers have signed on as billing partners.

Speaking of a month from now, it appears that Samsung's Epic 4G Smartphone may be making an appearance on or around August 20th.   I will have a review up soon but can tell you now that the name fits.

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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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