Monday, July 10, 2006

Cingular Playing Tough on Content Payment

Debi Jones over at mobilejones has a good post today about mobile billing for content and services, specifically Cingular's policy that all partners must use direct billing and not offer payment through systems such as PayPal. Goldpocket Wireless, a mobile content solutions company that among other things sits underneath the billing for text voting for the US version of the Apprentice, got a nasty-gram from Cingular, which it opted to share with customers according to the post, saying, among other things: ".... the current Cingular Wireless Policy prohibits the options of credit card and/or Paypal services for payment of content to Cingular Wireless customers. ... be aware that Cingular customers should always and only be offered the Direct Bill option for payment of content and/or services. Any programs that offer Paypal and/or credit card options to Cingular Wireless customers will be escalated and reviewed by Cingular Wireless for possible immediate shut off."'s cold in here. Debi points out that one outcome of the recent kerfuffle about whether EA Games would begin selling mobile content direct and not via operators was a reiteration by EA management that operators know best. Sounds like kowtowing to operator pressure. Sooner or later the dam will break and big content providers will start to go around these gatekeepers. Already the handset companies are doing that, with Nokia and Motorola opening their own retail because their high-end handsets are just being commoditized sitting on a dusty shelf in some Sprint store in Oklahoma. What do you think? When will the operator hegemony break down?

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