Reporting from the world of terrible ideas, The Information claims Verizon Wireless is scheming to create a new Android app store to compete with Google’s own Play Store.
The carrier’s plan is currently at an early stage, according to reporter Amir Efrati, who adds that there’s no concrete launch timeframe. As a result, it’s hard to know whether Verizon’s plan, if it exists, is much more than a trial balloon at this point.
Still, let’s hear it out. Verizon is supposedly wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, hoping to give its upcoming store a global reach by getting other wireless operators and tech companies on board. For now, its supposed plan is to use data—like user location, time of day and social data—to power app recommendations.
Cue the eye roll.
Verizon Makes A Play … For Your Wallet
Telecoms have long wanted to prove that they’re more than just dumb pipes channeling in data for other companies’ benefit. Unfortunately, that ambition usually—make that, “almost always”—translates into unwanted features and pricey services forced on consumers.
No one likes having their Internet service or real estate on their phones held for ransom. One big reason the iPhone took off the way it did was that Apple managed to wrest away control of the phone from the carriers, much to the benefit of users everywhere.
In that context, this reported plan looks like little more than a lame money grab. Verizon subscribers already have access to Google Play, and they can even pay for those apps from their wireless bills. So an alternative app store doesn’t seem to fill any need or solve any problems for people.
There’s also no reason to believe that Verizon, whose own stock apps are for the most part awful bloatware, really understands very much about app development. It would have to, if it wants build relationships with the developers who would populate its store.
Let’s not forget that Verizon tried this before in 2010, with little to show for it but a big bucket of fail. That store, aimed at Android and BlackBerry users, limped along for three years before the carrier finally pulled the plug in January 2013.
Follow The Money
If the Verizon plan is a reality, it seems to reflect a collective fear among carriers that they’ve failed to dip their buckets deeply enough into the app revenue stream. Sprint also just announced its own app store, called App Pass, a subscription service that assumes users will be happy paying $5 a month to use a collection of paid apps selected by Sprint. That might be a bargain if you believe Sprint has your best interests at heart—as opposed, say, to those of its corporate partners.
Unsurprisingly, money likewise seems to be at the heart of whatever Verizon thinks it’s cooking up. The Information reports that its app-store strategy is a direct response to Google scaling back its app revenue-sharing arrangement with carriers and hardware manufacturers.
How unlike the mobile carriers we’ve come to know and love.
Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock
UPDATE: Verizon denies that it’s readying an app store, but The Information’s Amir Efrati is sticking to his guns, tweeting, “Verizon spokeswoman says ‘no plans’ for app store. I and @theinformation stand by this report 100%…”
— Amir Efrati (@amir) August 20, 2014