When I saw the report that Verizon is planning to launch its own app store, I figured it was an old article. It's gone down this path before… and not successfully either.
Well, it's not old, and it gets more peculiar. Apparently, Verizon Wireless wants to offer its own Android app store alternative, and it plans to do so by creating an "industry coalition." We've been down this path before too! Remember WAC? It's okay if you don't. It failed pretty quickly. (See Wave Goodbye to WAC, Verizon to Launch Enterprise App Stores and Verizon Starts Over With Apps.)
According to a report in The Information (subscription required), Verizon wants the app store to be different -- a place where "developers can take full advantage of specific features of wireless-carrier networks ways of discovering the mobile software they might want." Those might include location, time of day or social network integration. It's reportedly going down this path as a response to decreased revenue-sharing with Google.
The report says the app store would be available globally, which makes me think it's the same app store consortium that was in the works back in 2012. At the time, Light Reading reported that carriers including Verizon, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) were joining forces to create a global app store accessible by all their customers. It was an interesting idea, made more compelling by its global interoperability, but it never came to fruition. (See Vodafone Leads Open Global App-Store Push.)
Carrier apps are a noble cause and one operators should be working toward by exposing their application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers. But rarely, if ever in the US, at least, has an operator-run app store done well. While the stated intentions are always on target, they typically end up being full of paid-for bloatware that consumers don't necessarily want. And, they're usually preloaded with no option to remove them.
Maybe this time it will be different. Operators are beginning to offer toll-free apps that will need a spot to live on the device, and some, such as Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), are experimenting with offering their own app subscriptions, something that's been popular in Asia. (See More AT&T Toll-Free Data Apps Trickle Out.)
Plus, the global angle certainly makes it more interesting. That said, the fact that it's been talked about for two years with no progress so far doesn't make me optimistic. Carrier API-supported apps are a great idea. Carrier-owned and operated app stores via industry consortium? Not so much.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading