Norway-based mobile operator Telenor is the first partner operator to join Telefónica's BlueVia mobile API platform. Established in 2010, BlueVia was launched to provide mobile app developers with access to operator application programming interfaces (APIs) to utilise operator services for payments, location, messaging and advertising from within mobile apps and services. The Google Play content store is likely to see a boost in monetisation as the store has integrated operator billing via BlueVia in a number of markets.
With more than 150m mobile subscriptions in 11 markets (and an additional 18 via its stake in Russian operator VimpleCom), the addition of Telenor brings the total number of customers potentially addressable by BlueVia to well over 400m.
Telenor's involvement in the BlueVia platform will initially focus on mobile billing. Telefónica has provided a number of other APIs to app developers (depending on location) including SMS and MMS messaging, location, and user context.
The addition of Telenor to the platform follows a number of other major developments for BlueVia including partnerships with Google, RIM, Microsoft and Facebook to enable payments across a number of their mobile app and content services.
Adding another partner should provide a boost to Google Play in Telenor's markets - which will likely see improved content monetisation when it is able to offer integrated operator billing via the BlueVia API. For users without credit cards, or those reluctant to register them for Google's store, the addition of operator billing will help drive content transactions.
BlueVia's initial focus was on engaging smaller independent developers rather than partnerships with major companies. Nevertheless, it is clear that the ability to enable developers to charge for content via operator billing is something that requires the support of major mobile content stores.
The expansion of Blue
It is a good move for Telefónica to collaborate with additional operators to expand the BlueVia platform, but it must choose its partners wisely and focus on a few key relationships rather than get bogged down in the complications that have hindered many other multi-operator partnerships throughout the mobile industry.
In addition to partnering Telenor, Telefónica also reported that more than 400,000 customers in Germany now pay for Google Play content each month via BlueVia-enabled operator billing. As mobile operator services have struggled in the content space compared with application stores, it makes sense for operators to preserve some role for themselves in the content value chain by providing such billing services
, especially, as is the case in Germany, in those markets where credit card usage is low.
Although other services such as location, user context, and messaging can help developers provide a more targeted and engaging experience to end-users, the focus on the payments API is the right one as operator-billing support is instrumental to content monetisation.