BOKU will help Apple sell their devices to a broader global audience. Today, ITunes accounts must be associated with a credit card. And while Apple has more than 160 million cards on file, Apple is still missing a huge addressable market of individuals who don’t have a credit card or bank account. In most countries, youth under the age of 21 are a primary target for mobile apps and virtual goods, yet most have neither a credit card or bank account but do have a mobile phone. And while credit card usage is on the rise globally, credit card penetration is higher than mobile phone penetration in only six countries -- U.S., Taiwan, Canada, U.K., Norway and South Korea. Being able to make an app purchase through carrier billing, not only for an iPhone, but for an iTouch or iPad as well, greatly enhances the appeal of these devices to consumers in the global market.
BOKU will help boost a substandard Android Marketplace payment mechanism, which if fixed, will help keep app developers on board and help increase Android marketshare. Today, buying apps through the Android Marketplace is slower than Apple’s App Store. Both Google Checkout and PayPal require minimal but nonetheless more steps than the App Store. In July, Google announced they would begin implementing carrier billing, but acquiring BOKU would provide a nearly immediate solution compared to Google organically setting up carrier billing.
I think Apple has more urgency in this situation. Look for Apple to keep the pressure on, and don’t be surprised if they aren’t talking with Zong, Surfpin, MoPay, Billing Revolution and Fortumo as well, since all of them have sufficient carrier reach. Google might be less motivated to look elsewhere, as Zong and Billing Revolution have developed a work around for Android developers (but that’s another story).