As we reported last week Verizon Android phones are going to be adding another app purchasing option to their repertoire by the end of the year.
The V CAST App Store will be kicking off only on Froyo handsets and could potentially expand from there. It should come pre-installed on new Froyo handsets and may be pushed to existing customers as part of an update.
I contacted Verizon to see if they intended to target any exclusive content for the V CAST App Store and they indicated that they wouldn’t be locking developers into exclusive deals with their store, although there will continue to be Verizon customer exclusive apps in both the new V CAST App Store and the Android Market (like Skype, NFL Mobile, and VZ Navigator).
Verizon has indicated that this will be a choice for customers and isn’t replacing the traditional Android Market, but it will be interesting to see if handsets launching later this year feature the V CAST App Store front and center on the home screen with the Android Market relegated to the app tray. Savvy and informed users will hunt out the Market, but the feature phone user upgrading to Android may not know any better.
Carrier billing is the killer feature for Verizon here, getting people to create a Google Checkout account seems to be a major hurdle in the battle to get Android users paying for apps. I have six family members that I have converted to Android in the last four months and yet I have only managed to get half of them to create a Checkout account. It’s becoming a recurring theme, but Google needs to be pouring more resources into alternative billing options including getting carriers to add direct billing of Market apps (T-Mobile is the only one that does this at present, in the U.S. anyway, to my knowledge).
The V CAST App Store should be a boon to developers as anytime you lower the barrier to entry for users buying your apps you are basically guaranteed a win and nothing is stopping you from releasing your app in both places so in no way would I blame developers for jumping at the chance assuming the approval process isn’t too laborious.
Users on the other hand are at least the long term losers in this story. On the surface it is just another place to buy apps and that’s fine, but what if you decide you want to (gasp!) leave Verizon some day? If you move to another carrier and get a new Android handset right now all of your purchased apps from the Market will magically download on the new handset as soon as you log into it. Clearly that will not be the case with apps purchased in the V CAST App Store and considering there probably will be little if anything in the V CAST App Store that isn’t in the Android Market then why were you buying things there again?
I have two questions for you:
- What are your feelings on Verizon’s current handling of Android?
- Is the lack of curation in the Android Market a major problem for Google or do they just need to make it easier to pay (and of course add more countries)?