SK Telecom to Direct-Bill Google Android Market

By Tim McElligott Comments

As Android technology took a giant leap forward this week by reporting an 886 percent year-over-year growth rate, SK Telecom made the timely announcement that it would introduce a payment system for purchases made on Google Inc.'s Android Market.

Google Android Market shoppers will be able to have fees charged directly to their monthly bills. The agreement between Google and SK Telecom will make it more convenient for the local Android Market users and support Korean developers. They expect to have the option available by the end of the year.

This carrier-billing agreement will allow SK Telecom users to buy applications conveniently. It will require no credit cards and allows customers to purchase applications, have them added to their monthly bills and be priced in the local currency (Korean Won). This prevents confusion from foreign exchange-rate fluctuations.

SK Telecom also said it will introduce and recommend applications on its own SK Telecom channel on the main page of Android Market.  Last month the number of applications on the Android Market was around 70,000, up from 50,000 just two months earlier. Moreover, the number of paid applications available to customers is growing fast.

The operator plans to strengthen its efforts to support developers by establishing the Open Innovation Center.  SK Telecom's executive vice president, Bae Joon-Dong, said, "This agreement between SK Telecom and Google highlights SK Telecom's role in playing the leading role in boosting the Android Market in Korea. SK Telecom will make redoubled efforts to increase wireless data and applications usage in Korea by emphasizing the benefits of an open operating system. It is expected that such efforts will provide SK Telecom's customers with a more convenient and exciting experience in the Android ecosystem."
Revenue for SK Telecom has been flat over the last year, but in its earnings call last week it said that revenue was up from last quarter by 2.3 percent, a quarter in which the company introduced per-second billing.

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