Vodafone Europe has announced it will be offering direct operator billing as an option on Android devices, allowing users to charge apps from the Android Market directly to their phone bill. Available initially in the UK and Germany, Vodafone expects it to have a positive effect on app sales, where users may have previously avoided paid-software over the hassles of adding a credit card to their account.
Initially, Vodafone says, carrier billing will only be available to those who purchased their Android device through the company's retail or online stores. The implication, however, seems to be that at some point that will be updated so that anyone slotting in a Vodafone SIM to their device will be able to charge apps to that account.
Further roll-outs across Vodafone are expected in future, and we're guessing other European carriers will follow suit. Several US carriers already offer operator billing for Android.