Verizon is announcing today at its developers' conference that it is has completely rebuilt its application store that ships with every new Android device the carrier sells. Starting from scratch, Verizon has recreated its own Android application store and integrated a new search feature from app discovery engine Chomp.
The Verizon Android store will focus on premium apps and ship alongside the Android Market on Verizon devices. Verizon is dropping its V Cast app store and renaming it Verizon Apps. On the flip side, Verizon is trying to make app search easier through its partnership with Chomp, a company that has created an algorithm specifically designed to tackle the tricky problem of app store search results.
Verizon is now trying to align itself more with third-party Android application stores like GetJar and Amazon with the focus on premium apps. Todd Murphy, director of the consumer solutions group at Verizon, told AllThingsD that nearly three out of every five applications it sees downloaded through Verizon are paid applications. That is significantly higher than in the Android Market itself.
This could portend and interesting trend for developers. They could focus their marketing efforts for premium games on the third-party directories next to their Android Market offerings. Verizon's effort to control the apps that are downloaded through its pipes is also a signal of how the carriers want to control more of the content running on their devices. Not only will they be able to monetize on the apps that are downloaded, but premium apps tend to be used more than most paid apps, which has the potential to drive up data use and hence the revenue that Verizon can potentially make off of data plans.
Searching application stores is an exercise in pounding your head against the wall. That goes especially true for trying to search the iOS app store, but Android Market is no better, even though it is controlled by Google. This is where Chomp steps in.
The Verizon Android store will have a search box featured by Chomp.
"What is different about app stores is that the search tech is very primitive," said Ben Keighran, CEO and co-founder of Chomp to ReadWriteWeb. "You only get good results if you search the specific name of the app and sometimes you get very strange search results."
The goal of Chomp is to change the fundamental nature of how people search application stores. Instead of looking for a specific app, they have created an algorithm that will search categories much more efficiently. Say for instance you are looking for "recipes" or "fun games." In the Android Market and Apple App Store, those could give a variety of search results. Chomp thinks that its specially built algorithm can give the best results for more generic search terms.
Keighran said that Chomp's approach is two-fold. It understands the DNA of how search works along with knowing how people search and what they expect to see. The Google-style PageRank does not work in application stores because there are no links within an app for the search engine to crawl and very little metadata.
"We have built the team around the idea of how people search," Keighran said.