Last week, Verizon announced plans to leverage its position as the top US carrier and enter the online app business by building a Verizon app store for mobile phones. It’s even holding a Verizon Developer Community Conference later this month to promote its new endeavor.
But Verizon has been on the receiving end of a lot of bad press because phones on the Verizon network will only come equipped with default access to Verizon’s app store. This means that BlackBerry owners on Verizon, for example, will have to pro-actively go ahead and download the BlackBerry World app store onto their device.
Could this be any more confusing for Verizon customers? Two app stores on their phones? Seems like the CEO of Verizon is probably wearing a pair of “bad idea jeans.”
What this tells us about bringing the iPhone over to Verizon
While the iTunes App Store surges past 65,000 apps and 1.5 billion downloads, the rest of the market is fragmented as everyone else is struggling just to remain relevant. The Palm Pre has an app store, BlackBerry phones have an app store, Windows Mobile phones have an app store, Nokia phones have an app store, and now Verizon will have an app store as well. If you’re a developer, would you even take a look at those other app stores?
Verizon’s attempt to leverage its 70 million strong subscriber base as a means to make a quick money grab in the burgeoning mobile app store market seems to imply that Verizon lacks the ability to see the big picture. Instead, the thought of emulating Apple’s app store success has Verizon seeing dollar signs that in the long run, it’ll realize, are just mirages.
By now it’s well known that when Apple was shopping around the iPhone, its first choice for a mobile carrier wasn’t AT&T, but Verizon. Verizon subsequently didn’t want to hop into bed with Apple because they weren’t comfortable with the amount of control demanded by Apple. Apple, of course, prefers to do things its own way, everybody else be damned, and it now seems that Verizon operates under the same principle.
Agreeing to Apple’s terms and conditions to sell the iPhone 2 years ago was undoubtedly a risky proposition for Verizon. After all, why would they bend over for Apple when there was no way to predict just how successful a product the iPhone would be. Famously, it’s been reported that AT&T executives never even saw the iPhone until Steve Jobs unveiled it to the public at Macworld 2007.
But now that the iPhone is an unqualified hit, consumers fed up with AT&T are praying that the iPhone will soon find its way over to Verizon’s more reliable network. The problem is that Apple will once again demand strong concessions from Verizon such as high subsidies and complete control over the product (i.e no Verizon app store, no Verizon logo on the iPhone).
Verizon would have a lot to gain by striking a deal with Apple, but its recent announcement of a proprietary app store leaves us wondering if landing the iPhone is even on its radar.
FastCompany hits the nail on the head when it writes:
This is Verizon clinging on to an old business model, one where networks dictated the user experience and the handset software coming from their phone manufacturers. By launching its own app store, the company’s desperately clawing at the idea of making money from selling apps, and keeping control of the situation. But times have changed–smartphones are now so powerful that it’s the phone itself that rules the roost… And, speaking of the iPhone, is this move an indication [that] Verizon’s never going to sell iPhones?
That might very well be the case.