V Cast App Store Looks to Provide an Alternative to the Android Market; Why You Shouldn’t Cry Wolf

Apparently, Verizon’s not OK with the Android market being the goto source for apps on their Android-based handsets. They’ve announced the advent of their V Cast Apps store with the goal of giving developers an easy, free, and fast way to get your apps to a large number of users. I didn’t quite understand the benefit of a carrier-specific app store right away, but mulling over it for just a few minutes brings to mind a number of reasons why this might be beneficial to those involved. Before reading my commentary, here’s what V Cast Apps will provide for those who wish to dip their hands into it:

  • It’s Free – No Testing Fees
  • It’s Fast – Our Goal is to place your application in the App Store within 14 days of Submission
  • Abbreviated Click-Thru Agreement
  • Carrier Billing – Your applications are billed directly to the Customer’s Bill; No credit cards, PayPal, etc.
  • 70/30 Revenue Share – 70% Developer / 30% Verizon
  • Hands-on, Experienced Content Programming Team – Get the visibility you deserve, not just a quality-crushing algorithm!
  • Content Programming and Store continuity across multiple platforms (BlackBerry & Android)
  • Integration with Network API’s! Messaging & aGPS
  • Detailed submission guides online and forums monitored by our support staff
  • Subscription Billing – Coming Soon!

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On Verizon’s side, it gets them the coin for paid apps, of course. Currently, the Android market awards a 70/30 split for paid apps between the developer and Google, respectively. It’s rumored that Google funnels a majority of that 30% back to carriers to supplement data and bandwidth costs (because those gee-bees don’t come cheap), but that has never been confirmed. Even if we assumed that to be true, Verizon would only get a small percentage of that 30% as the heap would have to be distributed amongst a number of carriers worldwide. With their own app store, 100% of that 30% goes into their pocket with no one to tell them off. The developers are still getting the same 70%, so they couldn’t care less (though I’m sure they’d be happier with Verizon taking a smaller slice as, say, 100% of a 20% slice would still turn out to be more than what’s returned from the market).

For developers, their apps are more visible as the market would be noticeably smaller than what Google provides as default for Android. This would be due to an Apple-like submission process where they carefully evaluate your app before approving it to the store. While this goes against the grain of what many developers like about Android, it means your app isn’t being drowned by thousands of other “pointless” offerings. We all cry out for quality vs quantity, so a selective submission process shouldn’t be frowned upon (especially if this is merely an optional alternative opposed to being a replacement.) It’s also good for their pockets as users will be able to purchase apps easily with carrier billing by Verizon. This makes it a painless process to purchase apps as users can just foot the bill when they pay for the rest of their services.

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And speaking of the users, if we assume Verizon only accepts apps of true quality and substance, they’ll no longer have a reason to look at the ugly Android market. I can’t tell you how much time I used to spend looking through the Android market back when the T-Mobile G1 was the only phone to be had with the OS on it. It was a pleasure to do so because quantity wasn’t a problem. Everything was useful and original. With growth must come saturation, unfortunately, but I don’t see the problem waning any time soon: I now hate launching the Android market. I sometimes go days without looking for an app I need because I don’t feel like looking at crap. At least with an alternative app store controlled by Verizon and governed with quality in mind, I can launch the apps store and find something interesting without getting the urge to put a gun to my head.

That was a bit dramatic at the end there, but you get the idea. The only problem I can see with this model is end-user confusion and fragmentation. If someone announces a new app, you expect to see it in the Android market, naturally. But what if that developer decided to only submit to Verizon’s store and you’re a customer of Sprint’s, AT&T’s, or T-Mobile’s? It’s tricky, and risky, but I think at the end of the day it’ll prove to be both harmless and beneficial. It’s not that I want the spirit of the Android market in its current state to be killed off, but even with Google making the drastic technical changes they have (automatic updating and update all, increased visibility, and Google Search-like searching features), I can see where providing an alternative market becomes something of desire for a carrier like Verizon, and I can see why developers wouldn’t mind playing along.

V Cast Apps Store will be available for all Android devices on Verizon Wireless with Android 2.2, with no word on if any other devices – Android 2.1, 1.6, 1.5 or otherwise – will be seeing it in the future. We’ll look out for its release and alert you guys when it’s ready to go live.

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