Google’s Android Market just added a third major U.S. mobile operator to direct carrier billing today. Sprint joins T-Mobile and AT&T as carriers that will let consumers bill through them when they make purchases in the Android Market.
Now Verizon is the only large U.S. carrier left that Google has to round up.
Android developers have seen a scant number of paid app downloads in part because the platform’s payments experience is still clunky. Apple also has more than 200 million iTunes accounts, providing it with a ready database of credit card billing information that can make the user experience much smoother than what Google can provide at this time.
Android is trying to close the gap by securing direct carrier billing deals that will allow users to charge their accounts with operators when they want to buy apps or make in-app purchases. Last year, the company got AT&T and T-Mobile on-board. It’s also signed on three popular mobile carriers in Japan — SoftBank, KDDI, and NTT DOCOMO.