Sep 22 AT 12:50 PM Sean Riley 12 Comments

V CAST App Store is coming soon to your Verizon Android phone

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:

  1. What are your feelings on Verizon’s current handling of Android?
  2. 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)?

Via: Androinica

Source: PC Mag

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • http://Website FredB

    there needs to be direct bill by the carriers for apps. I love apps but will never pay for one if its google checkout… if Verizon want to bill me direct.. excellent!

    • Sean Riley

      I’d be fine with direct billing and obviously Verizon could have worked with Google to make that happen, but precisely my problem is that rather than doing that they creating their own storefront and in the process are handcuffing their customers to their service. Is having a curated store to buy from that exciting to users?

  • http://Website mark

    why the hate for google checkout? i;ve used it a couple of times and its fine. i don’t see any value added by having this separate market.

    it was only a matter of time before carriers started perverting android, calling it their own and re-branding/re-purposing this stuff. its going to be a pain in the meantime if they neuter the experience at all and then wonder why no one buys/likes the vcast versions of android stuff.

    oh well, let the tough love begin.

    • Sean Riley

      I don’t hate Google Checkout at all, I’ve had an account since before I had an Android phone and it is both ridiculously easy to set up and I’ve never had any issues using it. But the fact that it isn’t just automatically set up for people makes it a potential and I think common sticking point for new users buying apps through the Market.

      • http://Website J. Cook

        I agree with Sean. I’ve always stopped short of buying an app because Google Checkout is just one more service that has my credit card info. I’m not paranoid but it’s one more thing that I have to keep track of and billing it through Verizon would be much easier. I’m certain that I would have purchased a couple of .99 apps if I could apply it to my phone bill. I know Google Checkout isn’t a huge hang-up but it really is a stopping point in my experience.

  • http://Website kevin

    the google checkout is just fine…reason people have a problem with it is A. they don’t have a credit card. B) computer challenged. c) don’t have a google account or choose not too!

    enuff said!

  • http://Website Lucky

    hahahahhahahahahahahahahahhahaaha….wait, they’re serious?

  • anakin78z

    I honestly don’t think the Vcast app store will get much use. I’m pretty sure it’ll be ignored on most peoples phones, and I can’t see developers rushing out to submit their apps to a market that only works on one network.

    • Sean Riley

      I’d agree if it were a level playing field, but if Verizon stacks the deck by placing the V CAST App Store on the home screen of new phones and manages to have at least a reasonable number of apps in there they will have a shot at locking up new users before they know any better.

      While it will no doubt be a minority of developers I think that you will see reasonable adoption as the visibility of apps will be significantly greater (based purely on numbers) than it is in the Android Market and I do think the ease of carrier billing will make people looser with their purchases.

      • anakin78z

        I could see them doing that on new phones, but it would be harder to push that onto existing customers. They might work something out with a bigger developer, and if it looks like it’s a formula for success, I’m sure developers will jump aboard, but I guessing a lot will hang back and see what happens.
        I’m also worried that Verizon will work out some exclusivity deals, and some big apps will show up ONLY on the Vcast store. That would suck.

        • Sean Riley

          Definitely, I’m only talking about new users, they wouldn’t try to push an app to the home screen of existing users.

          That was the first thing that occurred to me and I directly asked them if they planned to have content exclusive to the V CAST App Store and they said that no they will continue to have Verizon exclusives, but that they would also be available in the Verizon tab that users have in the Market app.

  • http://Notbuyingappsbecausecannotbechargedtomymonthlybill Greta Branch

    Just realized tonight that I have to give my credit card information over my cell phone to buy the app I had in mind. Called Verizon and they just said, “Sorry, that’s the way it is”. Guess this makes me one of many who don’t buy apps because they may not be charged directly to my Verizon account. I’m not likely to set up a Google account just for purchasing apps, not worth the time or effort. Just wish this issue had come up when I was doing the iPhone vs. Droid comparison before purchase.