According to John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Verizon Communications, the V Cast Apps Store “will open up later this year.” At the VDC event held in San Jose, Calif., Stratton said Verizon would in no way compete with its partners.
“What Verizon’s doing in this space is not to collide with the other companies in this space,” such as Research In Motion, Microsoft and the Android platform, he said. “Verizon does not intend to generate its own SDKs [software development kits] and collide with others. Our goal is to deliver tools to complement these platforms … to complement the on-device portal with a Verizon Web portal.”
Verizon.com is the 26th-most visited site in the world, he said, with 60 million visitors hitting the site each month.
Stratton said the new Apps store is indicative of Verizon’s history of going in the opposite direction from the rest of the industry. He said when other carriers had a “barrier to exit” over the issue of phone numbers, “we said that didn’t make sense, so we supported local number portability.” This time frame is somewhat similar, he said.
Meanwhile, Stratton said, when Verizon had to choose which smartphone maker to invite to launch its developer strategy and application store with, or “which platform to work with first and foremost,” the choice of RIM was an easy one.
Jim Balsillie, co-CEO at RIM, spoke at the VDC event and said to developers, regarding Verizon’s move: “This is an enormous strategic shift for them to engage you in … We’re in full support of the strategic direction they’re bringing out today.”
Balsillie said there is room for all kinds of applications to run on smartphones, including enterprise applications that already are available via BlackBerry App World such as SAP and Saleforce.com solutions.
“I’ve personally met with hundreds of CIOs, and mobility and wireless are areas where they want to deploy,” Balsillie said.
Moreover, partly in honor of its burgeoning partnership with Verizon, Balsillie announced new Web development tools for Eclipse and for Microsoft Visual Studio developers.
“We’re partnering with Verizon in this new, open development initiative,” he said.
The tools include the BlackBerry Web Development Plug-in for Eclipse and the BlackBerry Plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio Version 1.2. “These tools are part of a complete portfolio of BlackBerry developer tools for Web and Java development and a rich set of APIs that enable developers to easily create a wide variety of mobile applications,” RIM said in a news release.
“The BlackBerry developer tools portfolio aims to bring together the best of Java and Web development for the creation of Web applications that are integrated with core BlackBerry smartphone functions for a seamless, intuitive and robust user experience,” said Alan Brenner, senior vice president of RIM’s BlackBerry Platform Group. “The evolving portfolio of Web development tools for the BlackBerry platform allows developers to work in familiar development environments to create, debug, profile, test and optimize their Web applications for BlackBerry smartphones.”
At VDC, Balsillie asked, “Does the world need another app store? Absolutely. … You want channels and you need channels. App World is simple for us. We’ve had developers for a long time-this is about a channel. We’re going to support both,” he said, meaning both BlackBerry App World and the upcoming V Cast Apps Store. “We’ll have a virtual preload of the V Cast Apps Store,” he said.
Stratton said qualifying for the V Cast Apps store will be simple for developers who are already creating applications for App World. “It’s got to be a straightforward process,” he said. “If you’ve developed an app for the RIM app store in my mind you’re good to go” and develop for V Cast Apps, he said. “From our thinking this has got to be a frictionless process.”
Stratton also said Verizon will be in the business of marketing applications on its store, saying, “We’ve built our whole brand around the quality and reliability of the network, but the device is becoming more important and the apps are becoming more and more important.”
The entire process from when a developer submits an application to when it appears in the V Cast store will take no more than 14 days, Stratton said to applause from the audience of developers.
Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon Wireless, said as he welcomed developers to the VDC event, “If you’re a developer deciding which network to put your app on, you’re going to choose the most reliable network.”
Indeed, the V Cast Apps Store is not Verizon’s first foray into the world of applications. The company has been in the business of building BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) applications and will continue its BREW support, Stratton said. He also noted that Verizon’s mix of phones has grown from 15 percent smartphones to more than 40 percent and growing rapidly.