Airbnb and Deutsch Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile, announced a new partnership that will have the European wireless carrier pre-install the Airbnb mobile app in Android devices sold in 13 countries in Europe.
Beginning this spring, customers who purchase Android handsets through Deutsche Telekom in Albania, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia will receive a smartphone installed with the accommodation rental's app. Airbnb is also throwing in a voucher worth 30 euros (about $34 USD) of free accommodation for new customers who sign up through Deutsche Telekom.
The partnership is believed to be the first of its kind for Airbnb, which is struggling through regulatory hurdles in several cities around the world. The issue, for many regulators, appears to be the fact that Airbnb users do not pay the same taxes as hotels and other official accommodation facilities. In cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Amsterdam, Airbnb is charged with the role of tax collector and levies a certain percentage of each transaction in taxes. Prior to this, however, it was the responsibility of property owners to pay the proper taxes.
Although Airbnb has made partnerships work for itself in the past, such as the one with business travel and expenses management firm Concur, this is the first time the peer-to-peer rental service has worked with a mobile carrier to grow its presence. Other companies such as Spotify, Evernote, and Twitter have used the same strategy to offer similar pre-installed deals on certain phones offered by carriers.
"We are happy to have such a strong partner as Deutsche Telekom on our side," says Christopher Cederskog, regional manager for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe at Airbnb, in a statement. "The partnership will allow us to focus even more on mobile devices and address new users throughout Europe."
The partnership will also benefit Deutsche Telekom, which announced last year that it was allocating a $620 million fund to invest in third-party technology companies whose services will be integrated in the carrier's core service. It's part of its strategy to deliver third-party services to its customers instead of developing these services itself.
In 2012, Deutsche Telekom said it had a "multimillion dollar" investment in 9flats, a German startup offering the same accommodation rental services as Airbnb. However, the newly announced partnership shows Airbnb has managed to make its way to all parts of the global market.
"Airbnb is a pioneer and trailblazer in the sharing economy," says Deutsche Telekom board member Niek-Jan van Damme. "The concept perfectly reflects our brand promise, 'Life is for sharing.' "