Mobile payment company Bango has integrated Google Play billing with carrier billing, announcing Australian carrier Telestra as its first client.
The integration means that smartphone owners on Telestra’s network can now buy apps, music, movies, and more from Google Play, without having to pay Google — at least, not directly. Instead, the charges are simply added on to their current phone bill.
That’s a good thing for mobile carriers, since it extends the billing relationship they already have with clients and gives them a new revenue stream. It’s also good for users, who can purchase virtual items without having to give their credit card information to yet another company.
Whether it’s a good thing for Google is still an open question.
It’s obviously good if Google Play wins more use and more paying clients. But it’s not a great long-term move if it means Google is less likely to establish a direct billing relationship with end users and less likely to attach the holy grail of app store owners — a credit card — to a Google account.
Bango CEO Ray Anderson is pretty sure it’s a good thing:
“Android is winning the battle for smartphone market share,” he said in a statement. “As user numbers soar, we will see an increasing flow of developer talent and compelling content channelled through Google Play. We’re expecting that operator billing from Bango will boost conversion rates and developer monetization. It’s a new weapon in Google’s armory.”
All of which basically means that, as in other aspects of its Android strategy, Google is choosing to race to the base: get the widest number of smartphone owners using Android, regardless of how and of any potential complications.
But you can bet the company’s long-term goal is a direct, individual, and personal line straight to each consumer’s credit card — or digital wallet.