We’re here at the Verizon Developer Conference and there the V CASt App Store is probably the most relevant topic for BlackBerry developers here at the show. Hit up after the jump for the good, the bad and what we can expect from the V CAST app store.
V CAST promises a preload on all Verizon BlackBerry devices and they’ll have carrier billing implemented. This is a great opportunity for developers to get their apps in front of millions of users.
The sheer size of Verizon and the fact that they’re behind the venture 100% means that this could be a formidable marketplace. Verizon has the dollars to push the V CAST store well beyond App World and they have the power to attract the best developers in the industry. Take the Developer Conference as an example. The conference was free to enter and there were discounts on hotels and free food everywhere. No expense was spared. It’s this sort of spending that will help push this store to be the best it can be.
Verizon is creating an app store that will cover multiple platforms and a wide variety of handsets. For those developers that support multiple platforms, the Verizon V CAST store will give you access to users who use these handsets under one portal. This will make distributing your app across the most users possible much easier.
It seems that Verizon is offering a testing and quality assurance system that is more robust than what App World currently offers. It’s not clear if App World tests every single application, but they do have some sort of quality assurance. Verizon, on the other hand, will test your JADs, make sure delivery goes through, and Verizon will even make sure if the licensing system works.
The approval process for the V CAST App Store isn’t as fast as it should be. The approval process requires that developers submit “app concepts” first, and then, if approved, developers go through legal, and then you submit the binaries for testing and finally you’re online. The entire process could take upwards of a few weeks to get through.
The VCast featured section is really restrictive and doesn’t provide much in the way of promotion. The way it works is that a developer submits a banner ad, which is displayed in their app category. How you get featured isn’t clear either.
Verizon let developers know that they’re coming out with subscription APIs that will allow for subscription billing. The problem with these APIs is that they require developers to create a new version of their app that utilize these APIs, thus adding to the development costs. Also, during the conference, there was a moment where a Verizon rep seemed to dodge the question of whether the V CAST App Store would allow for dynamic licensing. Hopefully these payment and distribution methods are fully locked down.
While the V CAST app store will provide developers a potentially profitable new way of selling their apps, you have to wonder how this will impact App World and RIM. The general feedback from Verizon with regards to App World seems to be “they’re doing their thing, and we’re taking a shot at it too.” Verizon sees the app economy as a new retail business, and in retail you have hundreds, if not thousands of players gaming for the consumer. If denying RIM carrier billing will give their retail outlet an advantage over App World, it seems like they’re happy to do it. Perhaps RIM announced carrier billing before they really understood which carriers were actually interested in implementing.