For quite a while, Android users on many carriers in a handful of countries have had access to direct carrier billing for apps. Google is rolling out the option today to all content available through Google Play including music, movies, and books to certain carriers in the United States and Japan. While direct carrier billing is available to AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile (everyone but Verizon who operates its own Android store), Google’s announcement seems to indicate the expanded service will launch first on T-Mobile in the United States with Sprint coming soon. It will also roll out to Softbank, DoCoMo, and KDDI customers in Japan. You can check out a full list of countries and carriers that support direct billing here.
NTT DoCoMo Stories May 2, 2012
NTT DoCoMo Stories January 30, 2012
Ever since the original iPhone redefined the smartphone and Android became popular, carriers in the United States were caught flat-footed and they have constantly been whining about an undesired network impact caused by data-hungry owners of iPhones and Android devices.
While U.S. carriers are to blame for their years-long reluctance to upgrade their infrastructure and prepare for the inevitable surge in traffic, wireless operators elsewhere have mostly been able to mitigate the issue. Nevertheless, with 700,000 Android devices being activated each day, and the rising popularity of Google’s platform in Japan, it was only a matter of time before Japanese carriers faced similar hurdles as their U.S. peers.
According to a Reuters report citing a local newspaper story by the business daily Nikkei, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo said a recent network outage is to blame for a heavy surge in traffic caused by some data-centric Android apps that move large chunks of bits through its cellular network. Specifically, the carrier made claims that VoIP apps disrupted the service and is now requesting that Google do something about it:
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NTT DoCoMo Stories May 26, 2011
Samsung’s Galaxy S, arguably the most successful consumer smartphone powered by Google’s software, has outsold Apple’s baby for the first time in Japan where the iPhone has been a huge hit. The achievement has enabled Samsung to climb on the list of Japan’s top handset makers to the fourth slot, ahead of local vendors NEC, Casio and Kyocera. Furthermore, Android has flown by iOS in just three quarters and Android smartphones are now outselling iOS smartphones in the country. That’s the gist of a Strategy Analytics survey of Japan’s smartphone market based on first quarter shipments. Their director Neil Mawston explains in an InfoMobile story:
Strategy Analytics believes that the healthy demand for the Android-powered Galaxy S at NTT DoCoMo drove Samsung growth in Japan. Samsung is the main player behind surging Android smartphone sales, followed by Sharp. Japan had always had a unique competitive landscape, but is now looking more and more like any other advanced smartphone market in the world as Android has flown by iOS in just three quarters.