Vodafone have announced the European rollout of their operator billing for the Android Market. It starts in the UK and Germany where consumers, who have purchased their devices through Vodafone online and retail channels, can pay for Android applications either via their monthly bill or via prepay (Pay as you go). Vodafone is the first in Europe to provide for operator billing. I believe it’s already available in the US via AT&T and Sprint.
While ease of billing and a subsequent increase in purchasers will be attractive to developers it’s not yet clear to me if there’s going to be a large hidden cost for developers. Google recently changed the Market T&Cs to allow a transaction fee, on top of the 30% taken by Google, to be taken by carriers.
I have asked Vodafone to clarify the affect of operator billing on the transaction fee applied to sales. I’ll update this post if and when I get a reply. Let’s hope it’s the same as Sprint who have negotiated something with Google such that the 30% remains the same.
One other strange anomaly is that, according to the Android Market help, "direct carrier billing is only available as an accepted payment method for applications sold in your country’s local currency".