Operator billing for the Ovi Store was introduced in India for the first time yesterday by a joint announcement made by Nokia and Reliance Mobile. The obvious upside is that if you are a Reliance customer, you can now choose to pay for your app downloads monthly as part of your bill or have the price deducted from your balance if you own a prepaid (PAYG) connection.
Another major upside is the fact that the app prices for India are much cheaper than the prevailing global rates. For example, Gravity in India sells for Rs. 150 which is just over 3$ compared to the 10$ international price, a discount of a little less than 70%.
Similarly Angry Birds sells for just Rs. 50, compared to the 3$ global price which translates to about Rs. 136.
While the description on the Angry Birds page mentions a 33% sale, most applications and games are cheaper by quite a bit despite there being no sale. Another example is Battery Extender which is priced in India at Rs. 99, again cheaper compared to the global listings.
From a general glance, prices seem to be lower by upto 65-70%, which should serve as quite a motivation to buy more apps. There is however one major problem. The operator billing is exclusive to Reliance till March 31st, which means users on all other networks are left without access to paid apps as they are simply not listed for them, so obviously there is no option to pay by credit card anymore.
Nokia is believed to be working with other operators and credit card companies to iron things out, but there is no word on when things will be back to normal. One reason floating around for this problem is that Nokia cannot have different prices for apps on one operator and the more expensive listing everywhere else. So till then if you really need your app fix, grab a super cheap prepaid Reliance SIM and get downloading. May be that was Reliance’s big !dea anyway!
Paid applications had been absent from the Indian Ovi Store for a few days now, now we know why – the Ovi Store backend was being overhauled to put operator billing in place. Nokia and Reliance Mobile at a joint event in Mumbai today announced that operator billing was coming to Indian consumers on Reliance Mobile’s networks, making it the first such tie up in India.
(Prashant Gokarn, Reliance Mobile & V Ramnath, Director – Operator Channels, Nokia India at the Mumbai Announcement)
The app prices will be shown in Rupees and the ability to pay via the operator would be available to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers. The Ovi Store globally sees 4 million downloads a day, but in India this figure rises to 4.5 million a day.
There is no word on the proposed revenue sharing between Nokia and Reliance. What will be interesting to see is if the other operators also come on board with Nokia, specially since like Reliance, Airtel and Aircel already have their own App Stores. In any case, this is great news for Nokia users in India, specially those who hated the credit card only payment option.
[Image Credit: Telecom Talk]
The ‘Ovi Store’ is accessible in India and works here like it does in any other country, however that’s not enough as Nokia plans to introduce a localised version of its store in India according to the the national daily, Economic Times.
According to Vineet Taneja, Nokia India Director (Marketing), the desi-version will have a slew of apps which are customised for the Indian market and the focus will be on Indian apps in areas like location-based services (both GPS and cellphone tower based), music, entertainment, business and even utilities. Operator based billing will be introduced to drive revenue from the store.
Nokia also plans to enable the app store in phones across its portfolio by early 2010. “We are currently tying up with Indian developers to roll out local applications. The idea is to create a business model for apps in India so that developers, too, can monetise their work”.
Meanwhile, both RIM and Apple are also working on India specific versions of their application stores. It will be nice to see some competition.