Normally we're pretty pleased when we can report that a new country or carrier has enabled the option for carrier billing in the Google Play Store, allowing customers to charge app and media purchases directly to their phone bill. But for some reason, European carrier Vodafone seems to have dropped the option entirely. Vodafone has disappeared from the list of carrier billing partners on Google's Play Store support page, and we've confirmed the loss of capability from individual users in the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
European readers, no one could blame you for being a little miffed at Google when it comes to the Play Store. The company's focus on the United States is impossible to deny, especially when you look at the availability of carrier billing. But they're slowly, slowly rolling out the feature to more and more carriers and countries. Today Both Switzerland and Belgium get one carrier each added to the Play Store billing club: Swisscom and Mobistar, respectively.
A few of our European readers might have discovered this already, but Google's Carrier Billing page for the Play Store was updated yesterday. According to the additions, Android users on the Bouygues carrier in France and Play (the carrier, not the store) in Poland should now be able to buy apps and media via their phone bill. We've reached out to Google for confirmation and haven't heard back, but a post to this list is usually conclusive.
Update: It looks like Telstra has had carrier billing for a couple of months, and Google is just now getting around to updating the support page. Thanks to Adam Ricket (@onlineadr) for the heads-up.
Good news, Aussies: your mega-carrier Telstra is now in Google's good graces when it comes to billing for apps and other purchases on the Play Store. Just select carrier billing during the checkout process, and the purchase price will be added to your next phone bill instead of your credit or debit card.
One of the biggest problems with the Play Store is that, compared to certain other platforms, its international support for both products and payment systems is comparatively meager. This is, of course, one of the main reasons that earning revenue on Android seems harder for developers. Starting today, though, if you live in Australia and use Telstra, you have one more way to pay: carrier billing.
The rollout comes with special thanks to mobile payment platform Bango.
If you're a Verizon Wireless customer, you might be seeing a new payment option in your Play Store billing screen this morning. That option, as you've probably guessed, is carrier billing. We reported on the announcement just a couple of weeks ago.
For a lot of folks, this is easier than adding a credit card to the Play Store, but if you've got kids (or other spendthrift loved ones), this presents a new and exciting danger to your wallet.
Show of hands, Verizon users: who's excited to shell out another six bucks a month to Big Red? Verizon and its new partner Extent hope that you are. Today they've introduced the GameTanium Mobile subscription-based service exclusively for Verizon's customers, bringing "more than 100 of the best Android smartphone games and more than 50 tablet games" to subscribers. The fee will show up on customers' phone bill every month, but Verizon has generously offered a three day trial.
If you prefer not to give Google your credit card info, and would rather consolidate all your Play Store payments into one big carrier bill, then we've got some good news for you. Google just announced an expansion to the carrier billing system that now includes the ability to charge books, movies, and music to your carrier bill, in addition to apps.
The full list of carriers that support the new billing is above.
Google has made good on its promise to expand carrier billing for the Android Market internationally today, introducing the feature to customers on various carriers in three countries. This is great news for consumers, and even better news for developers.
South Korean users on SK Telecom and KT Corporation, UK users on Vodafone UK, and German users on Vodafone DE will all be receiving access to direct carrier billing in the coming weeks.
That's right, carrier billing is now available for some Android users on the least Android-friendly wireless carrier in the US. Huzzah. I guess I shouldn't be so cynical - I am an AT&T customer, after all. Unfortunately, I also run CyanogenMod 6 on my AT&T Nexus One, and have not yet received any Market update to allow me to use carrier billing, and doubt I will until an official Gingerbread build coaxes me off my custom ROM goodness.