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Updated: Samsung Launches App Store Operator Billing With Airtel In India

Nikhil adds: So it may be the case that there is no “official” deal with any telecom operator. Check the faqs (screenshot), and it indicates that the operator billing with Airtel is using P-SMS, rather, Premium SMS. This indicates that it isn’t integrated billing, and Samsung probably gets a minority share of the cost to consumer. Remember that ibibo used the same for microtransactions. A question remains – if you’re going down the premium SMS route – then why only Airtel?

Earlier today: Samsung has enabled operator billing on its mobile app store, Samsung Apps, in India, apart from UK, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. With this, customers who choose the phone billing option at the time of purchasing paid apps, will be charged on their phone bill, if they are on postpaid, or through a deduction from their phone credit balance, if on prepaid. Previously, only credit card billing was available in India. As of now, operator billing only works on Airtel, as per screenshots (below) and Samsung FAQs.

If one tries using any other operator, the ‘Phone Bill’ option does not show up in the payment methods. Samsung’s support pages also confirm the same.

Samsung claims that it offers 15,000 apps, and has registered 100 million downloads till March 2011.We tried browsing through the Samsung Apps store on a Samsung Wave, which runs Samsung’s own proprietary OS, and found that it offered a very limited selection of apps. Although, some popular gaming apps such as Fruit Ninja and Asphalt feature on the store, the social networking section is inundated with paid apps that are nothing but shortcuts or home screen icons for websites. Why would the user pay Rs.99 to get a Facebook icon on his home screen, that serves no other purpose except opening the mobile site in the phone browser.

Also, some apps only work on Bada 1.2 and advise the user to update the firmware of the phone. This, when Samsung has still not rolled out the update, to all users in the Indian market. Why display incompatible apps at all? Samsung must do something about clearing this clutter. After all, apps are the major differentiator in the crowded smart phone market.

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On a side note, Nokia, which enabled operator billing on its Ovi Store, is still exclusive to Reliance Communication (though there’s word that Vodafone might be next). RCom is promoting operator billing aggressively on the web, and even through television commercials. However, more than Ovi, the focus is on Rovio’s Angry Birds, which makes us think if Rovio has done a special tie-up with RCom.

Press Release

Related:
Nokia’s Ovi Store Gets Telco Billing In India With Reliance Communications

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