Verizon will launch its long-anticipated VCast App Store in the fourth quarter, promising to bring new mobile applications to market in less than 14 days.
Developers will get 70 percent of the revenue from each download, on par with the other major mobile software stores. The carrier's goal is for consumers to be able to buy applications on their phones with one click, and the mobile applications will also be sold on its Web site. Verizon executives gave details about the platform on Tuesday at the Verizon Developer Community conference in San Jose, California.
[ Verizon's app store leaves open questions for mobile developers, as InfoWorld's Bill Snyder explains. | Motorola also has plans for a mobile app dev environment for Android devices. ]
Verizon will be entering a crowded market. The Apple iPhone's App Store set the mobile world ablaze when it launched to great success last year. The Android Market for Google's open-source mobile platform followed, along with stores from Research In Motion, Microsoft and others. The online shops give developers a better way to reach users directly in markets that are relatively open and easier for consumers to navigate and buy from.
Verizon is breaking away from the traditional way in which mobile operators have offered software, in a tightly controlled "deck" with a limited selection typically organized by the carrier. The largest U.S. mobile operator pledged on Tuesday to make it easy for developers to get their applications into the store in order to get as many offerings as possible out to customers. "Our future success is no longer to be ours, inside the walled garden. Our success is tied to you in the room and you watching on the Internet today," said Verizon President and CEO Lowell McAdam.
Verizon will provide APIs (application programming interfaces) that allow applications to access Verizon resources including billing, location, messaging, and presence. Those APIs will complement the existing SDKs (software development kits) for such mobile platforms as RIM's BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Mobile. "Verizon does not intend to create its own SDK and then kind of collide with the device manufacturers and operating system providers," said John Stratton, chief marketing officer.
RIM will be Verizon's first partner for the app store, with Verizon trying to make it as easy as possible for developers to bring applications developed for BlackBerry to the VCast App Store, Stratton said. Though the VCast App Store will be placed on BlackBerry devices through a "virtual preload," users will still be able to download and use RIM's App World if they choose, according to Stratton.
Jim Balsillie, RIM's co-CEO, said RIM would support both its own App World store and Verizon's upcoming market. RIM sees more download activity on Verizon than on any other carrier in the world, he said. The carrier's market will be a way to get more BlackBerry applications out to them, he said. "We want a channel for our developers," Balsillie said.
Verizon also gave a nod to the emerging Joint Innovation Lab, an initiative to develop a single software platform that supports many mobile operating systems. It was formed last year by Softbank, China Mobile and Vodafone. Verizon joined JIL earlier this year. The specifications for JIL widgets, or mini-applications, have been shipped to manufacturers, Stratton said.