Google’s Pichai: On Android Pay, MVNO Mobile Network Details, Monetizing Android
Word surfaced last week that Google (GOOG) plans to announce at its I/O conference May 28 – 29 in San Francisco a new payments API called Android Pay for in-store and in-app payments for third-party apps.
Turns out the rumors were true. Sundar Pichai, Google products senior vice president, said in a keynote at Mobile World Congress (MWC) that Android Pay aims to be a developer tool for third-party apps made available by API and isn’t meant to serve as a hub app like Apple Pay or Samsung’s newly-acquired LoopPay.
Basically, Android Pay will enable developers to add a mobile payment feature to their app–a target for users to upload and store bank card information locally–that facilitates single-tap transactions within the app itself. Rather than Android Pay driving the payment system as does Apple Pay, it will be the apps that control the transaction.
At this point, there’s no word on when Google will release Android Pay but as Ars Technica first reported, the details likely will be provided at the I/O conference.
Also, at MWC Pichai offered a few nuggets on Google’s reported reseller deals with telecoms Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS), the third- and fourth largest wireless carriers, to sell wireless service directly to end customers. The deals, which some observers say will spur heightened price competition and improve performance, effectively make Google a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO.
Without providing any details, Pichai said the results of Google’s MVNO mobile network project to merge cell and Wi-Fi networks will be evident shortly, TechCrunch reported.
“The core of Android and everything we do is to take an ecosystem approach and [a network would have] the same attributes,” he said. “We don’t intend to be a network operator at scale. We are actually working with carrier partners. Will announce something in the coming months.”
And, separately, in a Forbes interview prior to MWC, Pichai said Google plans to show ads for apps alongside searches on the Google Play store.
“Users are trying to discover apps, we are trying to improve the app discovery process, and developers are trying to reach users,” Pichai told Forbes. “If you step back, it’s a problem we solved with search and ads in search. Users are looking for information, we provide them with organic information, but at the same time we allow companies to use sponsored ads to reach users too. We think the same model works very well for Play.”
As for monetizing Android, Pichai told Forbes that in the past year, Google paid $7 billion to developers selling apps in the Play store, or 70 percent of what Apple paid developers in 2014.
“We see a lot of momentum,” Pichai said. “We are able to monetize it effectively for developers. It’s not just applications; the content ecosystem is getting built up.”