Telefonica is today announcing a deal with Samsung that will see it make an even bigger move into the area of carrier billing. Samsung will integrate the carrier’s billing backend directly into its own mobile services, meaning that the Telefonica customers (it has 316 million worldwide) who use the Samsung Hub and Samsung Apps portals on Samsung smartphones will be able to buy apps, music, videos, books, games and more and charge them directly to their phone bills.
The agreement, which will use Telefonica’s BlueVia payment APIs, is a significant one for Telefonica. So far it has inked deals with app portal operators, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and RIM, and with billing providers like Bango; this effectively closes the loop for it by securing a deal with the world’s largest handset maker, although a recent deal to help the carrier finance the procurement and distribution of BlackBerry devices could point to Telefonica gearing up for a similar deal with that handset maker, too.
In addition to Bango, Telefonica also works with BOKU, where it led a $35 million investment last year. It’s not clear how this deal with Samsung will play out between these two rival billing providers. In the past Telefonica has been vague on the subject, saying that it will work one or the other depending on the situation.
Telefonica has been especially bullish on trying to come up with a way to get a piece of the action on apps and other content that is getting purchased on smartphones and tablets. Apple’s early move into the area with its very popular App Store (just this week marking its 50-billionth download) set a precedent for all but cutting carriers out of the picture, with Apple handling the payment on its own platform and then dividing up resulting revenues with the app publishers.
Mobile advertising alongside often-free apps is one other area where carriers and others have tried to play, although these revenues are still small in relation to those collected from downloads and in-app purchases.
But the promise of carrier billing, as we have noted before, is that it not only offers carriers a look in to the growing pot of money being made from smartphone content, but it also provides a route for publishers to better target consumers in parts of the world where smartphone usage is growing rapidly, but payment card penetration is not so much.
The carrier framework can be used not only for consumers who take monthly plans, but also for prepaid accounts, with each purchase deducted from there, as already happens with phone minutes, data bytes and SMS messages. This is an area where Spain’s Telefonica, which has more users in emerging markets in Latin America than it does in any single market in Europe, can hope to gain a foothold with its carrier billing offering, even if it has (so far) missed the boat in more developed markets.
Nevertheless, this deal will be implemented in phases, starting first with a rollout with Telefonica’s subsidiary in Germany “in the coming months.”
“We strongly believe that carrier billing has the potential to drive the monetisation of digital content,” Wayne Thorsen, vice president of Global Partnerships at Telefónica Digital, said in a statement. “Partnerships like this allow us to harness the power of the billing relationships we have with our customers to make it easier for them to consume content on their tablets and mobile devices.”
For Samsung, meanwhile, it gives the company the ability to promote its own content portals as easy to use — one way of driving more users there instead of to Google’s services. As Samsung tries to further differentiate itself from the other OEMs using Android, and Google itself, little things like this could help it along the way.
“Samsung is committed to ensuring that our customers have choice and convenience when purchasing content on our devices,” Lee Epting, VP of Media Solutions Centre Europe for Samsung Electronics Europe, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Telefónica Digital allows us to deliver yet another easy and convenient purchasing experience to our Samsung Hub and Samsung Apps customers.”
Telefonica and Samsung are not strangers to each other in the area of new services; they have co-invested in the latest round for semantic, real-time search startup Expect Labs.
Catcha Group, a Malaysia-based investment firm has announced it will invest up to $150 million in Asean-based online businesses over the next five years. The funds will come both from the top as well as through the Catcha Group’s subsidiaries.
The Asean region refers to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
The company’s online assets are worth over $300 million together, according to reports. Catcha’s CEO, Patrick Grove, said the decision to carve out the funding is because the company is seeing a rise in ideas and entrepreneurs in the region, and is keen to make successful exists from these investments.
One of Catcha’s crowning investments was its $300,000 investment into the iProperty portal in 2007, which today is worth $170 million.
Catcha has its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Its digital and print publishing arm, Catcha Media, is listed on the Malaysian stock exchange’s junior board. The company’s iProperty and iCarAsia site are both listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Read the rest here: Malaysian Investment Firm Catcha Sets Aside $150M For Asean Startups
You are bidding on Phase 2 development of a start up travel portal using WordPress. Please only bid if you have previous experience in integrating and customizing third party travel affiliate API / whitelabel to a portal.
Scope of job will be as …
Category: IT & Programming > Other IT & Programming
Type and Budget: Fixed price (Less than $500) Escrow
Time Left: 14 d, 18 h (Ends Feb 18, 2013 00:14 am ET)
Start Date: Feb 3, 2013
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Job ID: 37463331
The company announced earlier this month that it planned to close down its South Korea web portal at the end of December. Since then, users who go onto the site have been greeted with a message that says it will be shut down by December 31 (link via Google Translate).
Back in October, Yahoo announced that it would pull out of South Korea by the end of 2012 as CEO Marissa Mayer focuses on stronger markets. At that time, it cut about 200 jobs in that country. In a statement then, Mayer said “this decision is part of our efforts to streamline operations and focus our resources on building a stronger global business that’s set up for long-term growth and success.” As Yonhap notes, Yahoo was overshadowed in South Korea by local portal operators NHN and Daum Communications, and claimed less than 1 percent of that country’s search market by the time it made its decision to pull out. Yahoo has also been cutting its less successful properties in other Asian countries: earlier in December, the Sunnyvale-based company shuttered its Chinese music service.
See the article here: Yahoo Bids Farewell to South Korea, Completes Exit
For Google, what is happening in Germany right now is a very big issue. If the German Bundestag (government) gets its way, the search giant could be forced to remove publisher content and made to pay for the snippets it displays in search results.
Recognising that its German users may find it difficult to find the information they seek, Google has today launched a new campaign in the country called “Defend Your Net,” setting up a new portal designed to educate and mobilise its users to help protect the information it collects.
On this small portal, Google spells out what it believes will happen should German politicians side with publishers and force it to remove content from its search results. It explains that a change in the law could mean “higher costs, less information and massive legal uncertainty. Bloggers, politicians, the German economy and leading scientists reject this venture.”
Google suggests such a law could damage the German economy, threaten the diversity of information, result in massive legal uncertainty, set back innovative media and copyright and cause a “market economy paradox.”
Later this month a proposed new section to the German Copyright Act is due to be discussed in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. The new section, if introduced, would provide the “producer of news materials” the general “exclusive right to make said materials publicly available, in whole or in part, for commercial purposes.”
Others would be permitted to provide “public access” to the publishers’ material unless those providing that access are “commercial operators of search engines or commercial providers of services that aggregate this content in a respective fashion”. News publishers’ right to control the commercial exploitation of their work in this regard would extend for a year after publication. Authors of the work would be entitled to be “provided with a reasonable share of the remunerations issuing from the author’s work”.
The search giant argues that publishers already have the tools at their disposal to opt out of Google’s search results and it doesn’t profit from such news as its Google News service is completely free of advertising. In fact, Google says that it even directs as many as 45 percent of one German news website’s readers via its Google.de search engine.
To fight the law, Google asks German users fill out a web form notifying the company of their views on the proposed changes (perhaps protest would be a better word). It also lists a page where visitors can locate their local member of parliament and voice their opposition to the new copyright law.
Google’s search and News service already directs four billion hits to publishers globally, equating to roughly 100,000 clicks per minute. The company reminds publishers that if they do not want to appear in its search or on Google News, they can unsubscribe easily with a short text code – meaning “an ‘intellectual property right’ is not required.”
Image Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty