V Cast App Store Looks to Provide an Alternative to the Android Market; Why You Shouldn’t Cry Wolf


Apparently, Verizon’s not OK with the Android market being the goto source for apps on their Android-based handsets. They’ve announced the advent of their V Cast Apps store with the goal of giving developers an easy, free, and fast way to get your apps to a large number of users. I didn’t quite understand the benefit of a carrier-specific app store right away, but mulling over it for just a few minutes brings to mind a number of reasons why this might be beneficial to those involved. Before reading my commentary, here’s what V Cast Apps will provide for those who wish to dip their hands into it:

  • It’s Free – No Testing Fees
  • It’s Fast – Our Goal is to place your application in the App Store within 14 days of Submission
  • Abbreviated Click-Thru Agreement
  • Carrier Billing – Your applications are billed directly to the Customer’s Bill; No credit cards, PayPal, etc.
  • 70/30 Revenue Share – 70% Developer / 30% Verizon
  • Hands-on, Experienced Content Programming Team – Get the visibility you deserve, not just a quality-crushing algorithm!
  • Content Programming and Store continuity across multiple platforms (BlackBerry & Android)
  • Integration with Network API’s! Messaging & aGPS
  • Detailed submission guides online and forums monitored by our support staff
  • Subscription Billing – Coming Soon!

verizon logo

On Verizon’s side, it gets them the coin for paid apps, of course. Currently, the Android market awards a 70/30 split for paid apps between the developer and Google, respectively. It’s rumored that Google funnels a majority of that 30% back to carriers to supplement data and bandwidth costs (because those gee-bees don’t come cheap), but that has never been confirmed. Even if we assumed that to be true, Verizon would only get a small percentage of that 30% as the heap would have to be distributed amongst a number of carriers worldwide. With their own app store, 100% of that 30% goes into their pocket with no one to tell them off. The developers are still getting the same 70%, so they couldn’t care less (though I’m sure they’d be happier with Verizon taking a smaller slice as, say, 100% of a 20% slice would still turn out to be more than what’s returned from the market).

For developers, their apps are more visible as the market would be noticeably smaller than what Google provides as default for Android. This would be due to an Apple-like submission process where they carefully evaluate your app before approving it to the store. While this goes against the grain of what many developers like about Android, it means your app isn’t being drowned by thousands of other “pointless” offerings. We all cry out for quality vs quantity, so a selective submission process shouldn’t be frowned upon (especially if this is merely an optional alternative opposed to being a replacement.) It’s also good for their pockets as users will be able to purchase apps easily with carrier billing by Verizon. This makes it a painless process to purchase apps as users can just foot the bill when they pay for the rest of their services.


And speaking of the users, if we assume Verizon only accepts apps of true quality and substance, they’ll no longer have a reason to look at the ugly Android market. I can’t tell you how much time I used to spend looking through the Android market back when the T-Mobile G1 was the only phone to be had with the OS on it. It was a pleasure to do so because quantity wasn’t a problem. Everything was useful and original. With growth must come saturation, unfortunately, but I don’t see the problem waning any time soon: I now hate launching the Android market. I sometimes go days without looking for an app I need because I don’t feel like looking at crap. At least with an alternative app store controlled by Verizon and governed with quality in mind, I can launch the apps store and find something interesting without getting the urge to put a gun to my head.

That was a bit dramatic at the end there, but you get the idea. The only problem I can see with this model is end-user confusion and fragmentation. If someone announces a new app, you expect to see it in the Android market, naturally. But what if that developer decided to only submit to Verizon’s store and you’re a customer of Sprint’s, AT&T’s, or T-Mobile’s? It’s tricky, and risky, but I think at the end of the day it’ll prove to be both harmless and beneficial. It’s not that I want the spirit of the Android market in its current state to be killed off, but even with Google making the drastic technical changes they have (automatic updating and update all, increased visibility, and Google Search-like searching features), I can see where providing an alternative market becomes something of desire for a carrier like Verizon, and I can see why developers wouldn’t mind playing along.

V Cast Apps Store will be available for all Android devices on Verizon Wireless with Android 2.2, with no word on if any other devices – Android 2.1, 1.6, 1.5 or otherwise – will be seeing it in the future. We’ll look out for its release and alert you guys when it’s ready to go live.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Verizon is also trying to encourage carrier lock-in here, and that should always be frowned on. (If I switch to another carrier, what happens to my apps?) It gives them less incentive to compete on coverage and quality if they know I’ve grown dependent on an app that I can’t access on another carrier. IMO, content should never be tied to a carrier.

  2. That is a very good point that I didn’t touch on. Still, I suppose it’d be up to the user to read through the terms of use and know what they’re getting into before using the app store. I’m sure Verizon won’t make that an obvious disclaimer, and they’ll be protected by it if any user does end up in that situation.

  3. next Verizon will be blocking it’s subscribers from accessing the Android Market..

  4. Seriously? How could you possibly think this is a good thing? This is pure greed on the part of Verizon as usual.

  5. As we have seen in the past carrier control is what will hinder android as a whole. Fragmentation and carrier customization have time and time again proven only to hurt growth.(Sony, samsung, Garmin and the like) I purchase android on the base that as a tmobile customer I can achieve a relatively equal experience as any other carrier. If and when this trend catches it will drive me to have less brand loyalty and look at all options be it Windows 7 and Symbian.

  6. To agree with Alex that only relegates the user experience thus negating the advantage of the OS itself and putting the power back in the hand of a totalitarian style carrier. More control = Less competition and we all know where that road leads…

  7. “I now hate launching the Android market. I sometimes go days without looking for an app I need because I don’t feel like looking at crap.”

    First world problems.

  8. I smell.. failure.

  9. Fragmentation is bad, period end as Americans say.

    If I were a mobile application developer, I’d probably ignore this since you know that content produced for this application store wouldn’t ever work on iPhone, even if Verizon do eventually get it.
    Every time a new application store or new mobile phone operating system pops up, it’s an annoyance for developers because they’ve got to wonder if that platform will ever make it big.
    Thankfully they can probably ignore MeeGo, but if you wrote one cool application and had to keep it updated across all the popular platforms, Windows Phone 7 would be a platform you shouldn’t really ignore.
    If the Verizon application store becomes popular, that means making your game(and keeping it up-to-date) on Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Phone 7, Symbian(despite the operating system sucking there are plenty of handsets that run it) and possibly PC and Mac. Every time a bug is found or new feature developed you’ve got to go update all of those platforms. Now, if the Verizon application store gets big, you’ve got to release it for and keep it up-to-date there too, just in case someone using their Blackberry or Android phone ignores the official application source.

    Another reason to hate this is that this will likely lead to AT&T doing the same and other carriers will likely follow suite. This means that if a new developer comes along and makes a really cool application, it may never reach Android proper because they only made it for AT&T Android phones.
    If the trend were to go as far as it could, you’d have 4 major application sources, plus Android market. Any time a cool new application was talked about you’d have to hope that your carrier in your country had it.

    Also, this will likely lead to carriers dumping even more crap on customers’ handsets.

    Really, there’s plenty to hate about this. It’s exactly why I have no intention of ever buying a phone on contract again; it’ll be unlocked, vanilla Android on pay as you go for Me forever to avoid this kind of thing, as much as is possible.

  10. I think it is a waste of time for Verizon the apps will probably just end up on the android market being available in two places. Android market just needs to improve so far it looks similar to the iphone market which I currently own iphone 3g and samsung epic4g

  11. Google Experience will always dominate. They’re always going to bring us the next leap forward. I say let Verizon do what they want, Google will always bring us something better and verizon will always try to catch up (in most case fail). The more they try to customize the android OS, the more people will get frustrated waiting for the updates on Verizon end.

  12. Verizon is trying to copy Apple – get people to buy all of their content through you, and it becomes more expensive for them to go elsewhere. Don’t put it past Verizon to pull the plug on the Android Market as soon as enough developers publish their apps to the Verizon market. That will be the time when I leave Verizon.

  13. Is this the spirit of open source?

  14. Having a rival market might actually force Google to reinvent their current one, which is a POS!

  15. VCast apps are crap as-is. Why make a store for them? Terrible, terrible idea.

  16. So what happens when I switch from Verizon to Sprint, because Verizon is going to charge per gigabyte on LTE.

    Do I lose all my apps?

  17. As a developer, if other carriers follow I can definitively say that this is going to be very frustrating for developers.

  18. Your article makes a good point or two but is incredibly short-sighted. Verizon, at the launch of Android, proclaimed a new era of openness (they had been blasted for years for crippling devices/functionality) and if I’m not mistaken essentially promised not to muck around with Android (specifically as it relates to Google Voice, but as a whole as well). But now almost every move they make is aimed at asserting control. Their grip will only tighten and a year from now you’ll be writing how you were naive to think this is a good move.

    One thing you don’t even touch on is the issue of a gatekeeper deciding what apps people can use. Many buy Android specifically to avoid that. If Verizon decides an app is bad, do you think they’ll allow it to be installed on their phones, even through Google’s market? Doubtful. So what about rooting/tethering/free texting/free IM and media streaming apps like Sling Player? Or any apps that require root access? It’s unlikely they’ll make the cut. And I GUARANTEE when VZW launches its app store, they will ban sideloading of apps on new phones just like AT&T. Also, considering this Bing imbroglio, will it really be long before VZW dictates all apps must be brought through its store? If VZW simply reviews apps for quality, then this would be great…but we all know that’s not what’s going to happen. I love my Droid 1 but I predict these are my last few months on Verizon.

  19. is the best place I’ve found to get Android apps. You can search from your computer then just scan the QR code or whatever it’s called with your phone which will then find the app on the market..

  20. Ill echo someone above and hope that it pushes Google to innovate their store more. I’m all for quality control, it’s not something only apple does; Every Video game console out there has a strict set of quality guidelines because a bad game can reflect poorly on the system. I wouldn’t bat an eye if the 90 billion “wallpaper apps” with 5 wallpapers that need access to your call logs and contacts to work just disappeared.

    So maybe the competition will be good in the long run.

    On the other extreme, if carriers “do their own thing” and start locking down market places (and I don’t put it past them) they could cripple or even kill the Android OS turning it into the exact opposite Google envisions. Along with marketplace enhancements I don’t doubt Google is debating re-wording their usage agreement before its fragmented worse than the Linux it’s based on and ends up with the same market penetration because of it.

  21. this is a problem that can only be solved by the customers, through the manufacturers and developers. the customers need to stop whining on forums and start complaining to the right people. if customers were able to convince the manufacturers and developers to deny key products to verizon until they changed their business model, verizon would have no choice but to comply.

    people at large are too lazy and stupid to get up and act (ie a mass exodus from V to the other big 3) in order to send a message, so the only effective method available is for the few that are willing to act, act in a way that can be effective, ie, petition the product providers to put pressure on Verizon to stop trying to lock everything down.

  22. another piece of crap from Verizon. they’re losing my respect for their service.
    I wish my T-mobile carrier has better coverage in the states..So these a-holes (namely ATT&T and Verizon) can stop acting like a d*ck

  23. Wow- people are really conspiracy theorists on the net. While I’m CERTAIN the Big Z, like all carriers, will try everything to keep you locked to them, I don’t begrudge it. We all have choices. Sometimes moving to another carrier is ‘icky’ enough to keep us put. And that’s exactly what the carriers want.
    Why do you think the various carriers have had things like ‘friends and family’, rollover minutes, free calls and texts to the same carrier, free wireless to wireless, family share plans, corporate share plans, “free” phones or 500 dollar smart phones for “only” 199, and on and on? They’re all designed to lock us in- either with a contract or something else. It’s hard to argue that all of these are “bad” for the consumer.
    They’re in business and while they make bazillions of dollars that’s the whole point of being in business. Seeing as how VZW is one of the most widely held stocks, plenty of peoples’ IRAs, 401ks, and pension funds are probably part owners in Verizon and/or ATT. So half the people here are probably the “dirty shareholders” that Verizon is trying to keep happy by reducing churn.
    Maybe some of you don’t recall the days of “portable phones” being analog phones in a PACK with spotty coverage outside the cities and dollar a minute rates? Sure I feel like Verizon picks my pocket every month when I pay my bill, but in all honesty it’s tons cheaper for a better product all the time. (and good luck to the guy above who things that ATT wont charge for buckets for LTE also….)
    If anyone who posted ever had a windblows or POS phone on Verizon than they know what it’s like for VZ to be all locked up. AND HATE IT. I could certainly be wrong (happens all the time- lol) but I don’t see Verizon headed back there too fast.

  24. Simply put, its all about 1) money and 2) control.

    Verizon has always been infamous for monetizing every last thing they can, and this is right out of their standard playbook. They’re also really intent on controlling what goes in and out of the handset. Anyone else remember when the only Bluetooth functionality available on Verizon phones was headset audio? This is the same game, just with a few different players.

    I’m about to say ditch the app stores entirely and sideload everything. Let Apple have their store…everyones trying to copy it, with varying levels of fail. Download the package from the developer’s site and install it, just like you would for any other OS.

  25. Why would a developer not want to put their app in both markets if possible? If Verizon was to control the content, does that mean the developer doesn’t own the rights to put it up on both markets and thus open it up to a larger consumer base? Maybe I’m just confused as to why someone would logically use the Verizon market if it was only to mirror the Android market minus crap apps. If you know what type of app you are looking for you do a search for it don’t you, thus you are not randomly scrolling through the crap anyway. I guess I’d rather have profits go back to Android over Verizon anyway since they are the one who really opened up the door for those of us that don’t have an iPhone.

  26. And this is why we need to support the smaller carriers (MetroPCS, Cellular South, Cricket, et al). If we start sending a message to the big four that this shit will not continue, then it will stop.

    That, or they’ll start buying up the smaller ones….

  27. It does not really matter to me seeing as I have never and will never use Verizon for anything other than roaming on my Sprint phone. This is just one more way for them to make money and dictate that nothing goes onto their phones without you paying Verizon for it. The only positive to this is you may get a few apps that are of good quality, but it is nowhere close to a game changer. The iPhone would be a perfect fit for Verizon. Although the two companies may get into a slap fight because Apple would lock down the iPhone, and Verizon would try and load their own apps to make more money on top of their already ridiculous plans.

  28. Why wouldn’t I want my app in multiple markets? Because it’s a pain to update each market every update. And now I’d have t learn how another market works and deal with payment from yet another place. And then there will be the hundreds of emails I get when people switch carriers and want the app they purchase over on Verizon. This is a terrible idea that ONLY benefits Verizon and NOBODY else. Don’t be naive enough to think otherwise.

  29. I am also a fan of supporting the maker of Android over another company trying to profit from someone else’s invention. I would much rather that 30% go to the maker of the OS, which actually gives the carriers cash as well, rather than someone who is simply reinventing the wheel for profit and not really thinking of the consumer. I mean, would you rather give your hard earned cash to a millionaire or to a university which would use that money to support research?

  30. The only people that would really benefit from this is Verizon. Not the developers, not the users. i won’t be using it, and I hope Verizon doesn’t force us to use it.

  31. I hear a lot of angry ppl. Most of you are assuming the worst from Verizon. Evil as they have been in the past they seen to be getting better. If the worst case scenario came true and they did try to lock down the phone and control the market… their will be way around it with some custom rom work. I am not worried in the least.

  32. They will disable the ability to load apps independently of the market soon if they are going for control. Like what AT&T does to all their Android phones.

  33. From reading the OP, it’s is obvious he is a Verizon user. That is the only way you can see this as a GOOD thing. So what happens when VZ starts locking in those exclusive apps that the rest of us non-VZ users want (such as Skype or Bing, which are currently already VZ exclusive)? Google should have thought ahead and prevented this in their terms for carriers. Use AppBrain if you think the Android Market isn’t easy to navigate, but don’t start limiting apps to specific carriers. This is a huge step in the wrong direction and I can’t imagine it was what they had in mind when making Android so “open”.

  34. I’ve been considering a move to Sprint (current Verizon customer) as 2 of my 3 lines are out of contract. This may be the tipping point. I can definitely see them removing the Android Market all together and there is no way I wanna be stuck in a new 2 year contract if that’s gonna happen.

    Verizon- Proceed with caution. I can’t imagine I’m the only current customer considering a switch.

  35. I big problem with this is that I *know* that this will be pushed to my phone. I have a nasty feeling that Verizon will not have the resources to optimize this thing and it will be this huge pig occupying space on my phone even if I don’t want it!

  36. Given Verizon’s history I don’t know how any rational, impartial person can look at this and not be skeptical. I am a first time Verizon customer who switched to get the Droid (1), I have no problems leaving them if they try to force me to use the vCast store, or block the Google Marketplace.

  37. OK – I only got through the first half of the comments that were pretty much all negative.

    I’m with Quentyn on this one – with the only two caveats being that
    (1) there are no restrictions on buying an app and then using it with another carrier at a later date
    (2) there are no restrictions about posting the app on other markets.

    Fragmentation of shoe shops doesn’t seem to hurt anybody. I don’t see folks sending hate mail to Footlocker because they can buy Nike’s from Walmart. So, why not have several store options for buying digital content?

    I’d like to see the Google owned and run Market be the “we have everything” repository and then other specialized stores pop up with different goals.

    Good article Quentyn and to the rest of you – until we see if it’s going to be restrictive or not we really don’t know whether it’s good or bad. Verizon are actually pretty smart folks (they remain successful in a competitive market) why jump to the conclusion that they’ll do something dumb?

  38. This is pure form of greed and control.

  39. I’m not at all surprised to see this, after seeing what they did to the Fascinate. However, remember, Android is open. It can be rooted, modified, and cleaned up. If Verizon ever attempts to completely replace the Market app with this, like they replaced Google Search with Bing, then guess what? Devices with that treatment will be rooted in no time, and the Market will be restored. Not hard to do at all. Will doing so void your warranty? Of course (if they can prove you did it). Will the people that do it care? In a word, no.

  40. I will never buy a carrier specific app. I hope deveopers aren’t foolish enough to waste their time developing for a carrier specific store.

  41. Whats the problem…android is free and open and people can do what they want with it. If Verizon want to restrict android handsets to their own market…no problem. If Verizon want to push out their own apps…no problem. If Verizon want to replace Google Search with Bing…no problem. That is what makes android so great….people can taylor it for their own purposes. If you want a phone where no one can push their own business model onto the sconsumer then I suggest you get a handset that is free of carrier control.

  42. This concerns me. I like google. I like that as it is now i can take my purchased google apps to tmobile, sprint or any other carrier that offers an android phone that I want. Hopefully developers and users will shun Verizon app Store and users will shun developers who don’t. I really hope Verizon does not ever screw us out of our choice to use and purchase any app we want on the android market.

  43. The problem with Android Fan’s comment is that “people”, i.e. consumers, aren’t making these changes. Verizon is changing Android so much that it shouldn’t be even called Android. For everyone else NOT reading this website, rooting isn’t an option. The common person buying an Android phone doesn’t even know what they are missing. Even when they know what they are missing most won’t root unless they want to spend $400+ for unsubsidized replacement phone if something goes wrong. This is a big shame since Verizon already knows these things. Say what you want about Apple, but they kept that iPhone and iTunes locked up tight from AT&T’s meddling.

    Heh, what is this 1999? Unlimited Talk and Text @ $90 and still have to add $30 for data, Sprint FTW for including data

  44. I knew it was only a matter of time before Verizon went back to there old ways in trying to control everything.

    This is NOT good for consumers no matter how you look at it but whatever I won’t ever use Verizon again.

  45. As a developer I don’t want multiple markets because that means I have to maintain my app with multiple accounts, and different rules. It’s bad enough there is iOS and I have to deal with their system for submitting ports of my Apps there. More Markets = More work for devs = Pain the ass

  46. As others have said, this is a horrible, horrible idea. I’m really surprised, Quentyn, that you would endorse this just for the possible increase in convenience it would provide in finding apps.

    This is pure Apple-esque greed and control from VZW. This isn’t about doing anything positive for end users and/or developers. End users will be screwed by carrier exclusivity, perhaps even phone exclusivity on the same carrier (exclusive apps on a phone by phone basis). Want to switch carriers? You’ll get to re-purchase all those apps again. Developers don’t want to have to develop/submit thru a number of different app stores and/or have their apps locked into one carrier. This is a bad idea all over, Quentyn.

    Google will eventually get it’s act together and improve the Market. Until then, use Appbrain or any of several other similar sites to browse for quality apps. (Google really ought to just hire the Appbrain devs, and then it’s problem solved.)

  47. @ANdroid4U

    no it’s not 1999 where unlimited text and talk is 90 bucks. In 1999 service was like 75 bucks a month for 30 minutes of analog time and overage was like 90 cents a minute. there was no data no text message no ubiquitous coverage, no unlimited roaming, etc, etc. So clearly as a whole the thing has gotten better.

    Just like everyone freaked about killing off unlimited data, everyone is jumping to conclusions here. We dont know what the outcome will be till we see it. There’s a HUGE potential for a bad outcome. But as Quentyn and others point out there are potential upsides. We’ll just have to see.

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