Telstra will tighten its relationship with Microsoft in order to benefit from applications sold on Microsoft’s recently launched mobile apps store, Microsoft Mobile Marketplace.
Under the deal, Telstra will exclusively offer about eight of its own mobile applications — believed to include Foxtel and revamped editions of BigPond and Sensis-based services, and also receive a commission from Microsoft for applications sold via Telstra handsets running the newly-launched Windows Mobile 6.5.
Telstra is currently working on integrating its billing system with Microsoft’s so that Telstra customers can buy applications on the Mobile Marketplace and be billed directly to their Telstra phone bill.
According to Telstra product management executive director, Ross Fielding, the billing service, due to launch in about three weeks, will play an important role in the success of Mobile Marketplace.
“It’s a big, important step and will make a big difference in the take up [of applications],” he said. “We also have a real push for Microsoft Online Services and T-Suite and how that sits in Marketplace. We are still working out, but it’s a big opportunity.”
The integration of the two company’s billing platforms would also help manage the money-back-guarantee process that Microsoft is using as a sweetener to encourage consumers to use Mobile Marketplace.
Fielding said that while Telstra had aimed to have the billing integration ready for launch at the unveiling of Mobile Marketplace, the process had proved complex.
“We have had a number of transformation projects under way and there are some complexities [with the integration],” he said. “For the money back guarantee [on Marketplace apps], getting a refund on a credit card is a bit easier than on a telco billing engine.”
According to director mobile communications business ANZ at Microsoft, Grace Kerrison, Mobile Marketplace had launched with between 250 and 300 apps, which include free apps and those ranging from $3.99 to $30.
“[Developers] have a right to set the price that they want for their application, so they might have a different price in a different location, but they do have a choice as to which prices in which markets they choose to sell their apps,” she said.
Kerrison said about 25 Australian developers had been certified under the Marketplace system, including Tiny Wiki, which had submitted nearly 30 apps for certification.
Whereas app developers have previously complained about the selection process for having applications offered on Apple’s Appstore, Kerrison said Microsoft was being transparent about its selection and certification processes.
“We run a stringent certification process for developers,” she said. “Our developer site is quite transparent as how we certify your app and what are the different criteria to certify your app.”