VENTURES AFRICA – Mobile subscribers on African networks owned by VimpelCom will now be able to buy digital content from the Windows Phone Store using their mobile pre-paid and post-paid accounts under a new deal signed with Microsoft Corporation and cellphone maker, Nokia Corporation.
In Africa, VimpelCom has mobile network operating units in Algeria, Burundi, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic while it also has other telecommunications units in Canada, Pakistan and Bangladesh among other counties. Its combined subscriber base stood at 212 million as at the end of September 2012.
VimpelCom has announced that subscribers on its networks will now be able to use their mobile phone accounts “to easily find, try and buy” games, music and other digital content from the Windows Phone Store.
The company said this week that the cost of the purchased applications will be deducted from the network user’s prepaid credit account or alternatively added to their monthly bill.
“VimpelCom mobile billing offers people more quick and easy payment options, giving them better access to the thousands of great apps in the Windows Phone Store,” said Todd Brix, senior director for Windows Phone Apps at Microsoft Corporation.
Mikhali Gerchuk, VimpelCom’s group commercial and strategy officer, said the new arrangement with Nokia and Microsoft enables the company to “significantly enhance the smartphone experience” for its mobile network users.
Brix added that the “Windows Phone Store makes it easy for people to find and buy the only apps with Live Tiles.”
It is expected that VimpelCom will capitalise on the rapidly expanding Windows Phone ecosystem, with capable devices to be distributed across more than 70 countries. Microsoft will also develop the system into supporting 50 display languages, with the Windows Phone Store said to have over 125,000 apps and games in about 191 countries.
VimpelCom said it will have a dedicated ‘VimpelCom Shelf’ – which will offer about 200 selected applications. This, it added will “make it easy for VimpelCom customers to navigate their way among the content available in the Windows Phone Store”.
“In many of our markets we will be the first operator to launch mobile account payments for the Windows Phone Store,” Gerchuk said.
Nokia Corporation’s head of sales and marketing, Chris Weber, said the deal “marks yet another important step” for the Windows Phone operating system as it is a “compelling example of a win-win-win situation for customers, developers and consumers alike”.
He said Nokia would continue to “extend the line-up of our popular Lumia devices across geographies and price bands”.