Apple said last week that iPhone sales in India surged 56 percent from a year earlier, even as those in Greater China dropped and global revenue fell for the first time in 13 years. Now Google, whose core business is blocked in China, has signed its first carrier billing deal in India, allowing smartphone users to buy apps, digital books and games and have the items charged to their phone bill.
Android users who are customers of India's Idea Cellular can purchase apps without a credit card or bank account. It's a big deal for Google, because India's smartphone population is expanding by 20 percent a year, while only about 2 percent of residents have payment cards, according to MasterCard.
"Despite the fact that they are downloading lots of apps and using smartphones, many don't have readily available methods of payment like credit cards," said Kunal Soni, Google Play's head of business development in India. Also, this "opens up new possibilities for Indian developers to create great content that can be used both locally and globally."