Verizon V Cast Apps Rivals Google Android Market

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-09-21

Verizon V Cast Apps Rivals Google Android Market

Verizon Wireless formally unveiled its V Cast Apps application store Sept. 21, opening a new rivalry with partner Google and its Android Market.

The No. 1 wireless carrier has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Google, shipping millions of its Droid line of smartphones based on the search engine's Android operating system.

Google mobile applications are prominently featured on Droid devices, as is the Android Market, Google's gateway to more than 85,000 free and paid apps from Android developers.

V Cast Apps, which sports more than 5,000 developers, will now compete with Google for Android developers, confirmed Greg Haller, vice president of consumer solutions for Verizon Wireless, at the company's Verizon Developer Community conference in Las Vegas Tuesday.

"V Cast Apps is about offering choices to consumers, and about making the overall apps marketplace more competitive," Haller told the crowd. "We'll help customers find apps and decide how to get them."

Haller then moved to set the record straight. When news about V Cast Apps for Android leaked last week, bloggers and pundits speculated that Verizon was trying to take over users' phones by offering its own apps.

In the process, the carrier would marginalize the Android Market by controlling the applications that appear on its Android smartphones.

Haller said this is not true, pointing to products on its BlackBerry devices and Google Maps on its Droid devices as a model for open competition. For example, Google Maps offers navigation functionality that competes with Verizon's Navigator app.

"We're not limiting in any way what's available to customers, in the way of apps stores on the phones or access to apps through the browser," Haller said. "We're giving [customers] options while at the same time giving developers broader distribution and the opportunity to more effectively reach customers."   

Haller's comments came three weeks after Verizon Wireless opened binary submission of apps for Verizon's HTC Droid Incredible, Motorola Droid and Motorola Droid X.

Verizon Justifies V Cast Apps with Carrier Billing


Just last week, Verizon began accepting submissions for the Samsung Fascinate and Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet computer. Developers must build apps for the latest flavor of the OS, Android 2.2, said Haller.

As additional points of attraction, Verizon said it will impose no testing fees, guarantee application placement within two weeks of submission and provide a 70-30 carrier split in favor of the developer.

But perhaps Verizon's main draw for V Cast Apps will come in the form of its carrier billing services.

While Google's Android Market allows T-Mobile customers to charge Android apps to their wireless bills, the store does not yet allow Verizon Droid smartphone owners to enjoy this convenience. V Cast Apps will provide such billing.

"We're going to make it super easy for [consumers] to pay for the apps," Haller said. "Carrier billing lets us take care of some of those operational issues."

Note this subtle dig at Google. Many phone experts and consumers have criticized Google for its billing limitations, which also include the glaring reality that developers for the Android Market can only sell apps in nine countries.

Provided the apps that developers build for Verizon are of sound quality, carrier billing for V Cast Apps could offer Verizon quite a competitive advantage over Google's Android Market and would perhaps cloud the carrier's relationship with its platform partner. 

Google declined to comment for this story. 

V Cast Apps for Android wasn't the only news of note for the company at VDC. Verizon also launched APIs for location and messaging that developers may incorporate into apps built for V Cast. 

Messaging APIs will allow developers to create applications and features such as "link-to-buy" a product tools. Location APIs will allow developers to infuse location information in applications and services on most Verizon Wireless smartphones.

Additional APIs for presence and device capabilities are on the way, Haller promised. 

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