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Reuters is reporting that Nokia has failed to arrange operator billing for the Ovi store in the USA, leaving Americans having to pay by credit card while the rest of the world gets purchases added to their phone bill, though Nokia insists that negotiations continue.

Actually, for the rest of the world read Australia, Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Singapore and Spain, as those are the countries listed by Reuters as supporting operator-billing, though when we contacted Nokia the company told us it is still working towards putting operator billing in place and that Reuters was "speculating" with regard to specific locations or operators.

Operator billing is supposed to be a key differentiator for the Ovi store, which is set to launch next month, both in terms of appeasing the operators in the hope they'll promote the service, and appealing to users as the simplest way of buying stuff on a mobile phone. Integration has got easier as operators finally bit the bullet and upgraded creaking systems designed to handle nothing more than counting minutes, but it's still a technical and political challenge and offering the service is eight countries is impressive.

Including America is important to Nokia, who just can't seem to gain traction over the pond despite its dominance everywhere else. Operator billing is needed to give Ovi a clear and distinct advantage against Apple's iTunes.

Ovi e-mail has managed to rack up a quarter of a million users since launching at the beginning of the year, but it really needs to make money selling stuff to become the pathway to service-provider that Nokia wants it to be. ®

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