Amazon has now started a trial of allowing shoppers to purchase apps and to make in-app purchases within Amazon’s app store and to then have those charges appear on their phone bills.
The arrangement was announced by British carrier firm Bango, which said it will start the trial with Telefonica’s O2 and run it initially only in Germany.
The way this was announced was markedly understated. Amazon itself announced nothing, allowing its lesser-known partner to make the announcement, knowing that it would attract less attention that way. And that announcement from Bango went out of its way to not mention Amazon in the headline, announcing an attention-deflecting “Major app store partner now live.” Only in the statement’s body does it say “Bango is pleased to announce that it is working with Amazon and Telefónica Deutschland for carrier billing services on Telefónica’s network in Germany.”
TechCrunch reported that the initial offering is quite limited, which is not unusual for a trial. “In fact, as of this moment, there is only one device where you can see Amazon’s carrier billing services in action,” the story said. “If you use Amazon services on a Samsung Galaxy Mini that is running on the O2 network in Germany, you can charge app purchases directly to your bill, where the charge is deducted in euros or the euro equivalent of Coins, Amazon’s virtual currency.”
Like everything else with carrier interactions, the details get messy. In Germany, Amazon has chosen to sell its Fire Phone through a direct rival with O2: Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile. As TechCrunch summarized it: “If you are one of Amazon’s newest phone customers in the country — with a phone and its ties to a carrier being the most optimal environment to use carrier billing — at this moment, you won’t be able to use carrier billing. If you are an Android user on the O2 network that has turned on Amazon’s appstore, you will.”