Publishers can now use Zong apps to offer their customers polls, quizzes, alerts, RSS feeds and more via SMS shortcodes and responses. The company says its API also allows publishers to leverage web content, serve up and bill customers for a wide variety of applications beyond SMS interactions.
Zong says it will announce deals with AT&T, Sprint, Nextel, T-Mobile, Boost, Cellular1 and Virgin early next month. No Verizon yet, apparently.
Publishers are expected to charge customers for use of the apps and billing functionality is built into Zong. The US carriers will take 40 to 60% of revenue from the apps, Zong will take less than 10% and the publishers can pocket the rest. That sounds like the kind of revenue split that could prove viable in the long run. While a lot of the apps we'll start seeing soon will probably be pretty corny, there will be some good ones too. Good mobile apps that work are something I'm willing to pay to use.
Competitor Golife Mobile just began offering limited Java application access last week. Some comparison to Google's Android Mobile OS can't help but come to mind - but Zong is a far more limited application framework, is explicitly commercial in its relationship to end users - and it's live now. While the Android SDK has been released - the Operating System isn't live on any phones yet.