Verizon to Launch Cross-Platform App Store for BlackBerry, Palm, More

Verizon Wireless plans to debut its own on-device smartphone app store for BlackBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile and Android devices before the end of the year--and it's reportedly the only one that will ship with new Verizon handsets. CIO.com's Al Sacco doesn't expect Verizon's store to make any sort of significant splash, but as long as the carrier doesn't block other app shops, it should be good news for users, as well as developers.

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Wed, July 15, 2009

CIO — Everyone who's anyone in the wireless space wants in on the app store game. Handset-makers, carriers, third-party software vendors and others all want a hand in the action, a chance to bring in some of those iTunes App Store dollars.

image of The Verizon Developer community Logo
The Verizon Developer community Logo

But U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless, which has traditionally taken a closed-door approach to developer relations, is trying out a new strategy -- courting mobile app developers for its own cross-platform app store it plans to open before the start of next year, according to reports. But that's not all: Verizon will reportedly ship new devices with just its own app store, leaving customers to download software shops like Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry App World and Microsoft's Windows Marketplace for Mobile on their own.

The carrier also plans to hold a developer specific event later this month in San Jose, the Verizon Developer Community 2009 conference, at which additional information on the upcoming app store will be shared.

Verizon won't block installation of on-device clients like App World for BlackBerrys, Marketplace for Mobile on Windows devices or the Android Marketplace on smartphones running Google's mobile OS. In other words, customers will still be able to download and use whatever compatible app stores they please; they'll just have to locate and install those clients themselves.

Developers would still create apps specifically for mobile platforms, like BlackBerry or Android, but they'd all be offered via similar versions of Verizon's app store tailored for those different devices and operating systems.

Any apps sold through Verizon will reportedly undergo a short vetting process to ensure compatibility. And they'll all feature certain APIs and tools that will enable customers to purchase the apps and bill them to their monthly wireless statements, according to reports.

Developers will also have a say in pricing their apps, a drastic change from the way Verizon sells third-party applications for feature phones or "non-smartphones."

Though I don't necessary like the idea of Verizon pushing its own app store and purchasing process down customers' throats, it's really no different than what AT&T and other carriers have been doing for years via "crapware."

It's also a bit underhanded of Verizon not to ship devices with app stores from handset makers (in addition to its own on-device offering), but it's not surprising. Verizon is in the wireless business to make a profit, and a large percentage of mobile dollars are now associated with software and not just hardware.

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