Dear Verizon, Why V CAST apps is terrible

On Wednesday, Verizon sent out an email to the ‘Verizon Developer Community’ once again trying to push their V CAST Apps Store. This store isn’t actually used or wanted by developers or consumers, but that doesn’t keep Verizon from trying. So allow me to take a minute to use this email to show everything that they are doing wrong. I will start by pointing out that nobody seems to know what V CAST is actually an acronym for. A quick search brings up nothing. So Verizon is not off to a good start. Here is the image that heads their email to developers.

The thing is the developers generally have an engineering background. Which means for the most part we have a solid understanding of simple mechanical systems. Things like gears. For those at Verizon who clearly do not understand this, gears need to actually touch each other in order to work. The teeth of the gears need to interlock, so that rotating one gear will result in movement of the other gear. This is how machines operate. As such if you are going to add out apps to your machine most developers don’t really want them to be placed between the teeth of the gears. That is where things get crushed. Getting to the text of the email doesn’t make things any better for Verizon.

“Want to increase your app sales?”

Of course. All developers want to increase app sales. But after talking to one of the few developers that is actually in the VCAST apps store, there is really no evidence that being in the VCAST apps store is actually going to do anything in order to increase app sales.

“Submit your app to V CAST Apps”

The thing is, I tried. I honestly did. The submission process asked for lots of paperwork, lots of legal documents, lots of fluff about my company. I tried the best I could to generate a lot of this nonsense that no company outside of the Fortune 500 actually has or cares about. You wanted screenshots formatted as .gif files. I still don’t know why. You wanted a single build to support all screen resolutions, OS versions, and input mechanisms. I complied by using a low OS build and limiting the list of supported devices. I honestly forget at which point I gave up and figured that it just wasn’t worth my time, but the fact is that I should have quit much, much sooner.

“it’s the only way to enable carrier and subscription billing on Verizon.”

That is disappointing. Carrier billing is rising in popularity. It results in more people buying apps. But only if it is tied to a store that actually has content to sell. Verizon would make far more money taking just a 1% cut on all the transactions from their customers through BlackBerry AppWorld, then they will taking 30% through the VCAST store. There is money to be made, but Verizon is too interested in pushing a redundant service to actually benefit.

“Submitting your app to V CAST Apps is the only way to get access to the power of our Efficiency Machine.”

This mostly scares me due to the capitalizing of “Efficiency Machine”. Is that honestly the proper name of what you want me to sign up for? To me it doesn’t look any different then what devs have been ignoring from you for years.

“TURN ON THE MACHINE Put the Machine to work for your app today. It’s quick, free and it’s never been easier.”

You know what would actually be easy (and efficient)? Integrating your existing carrier billing with the existing BlackBerry AppWorld. Every BlackBerry Developer already sells through AppWorld. It is already preinstalled on every phone sold. If Verizon added carrier billing to that it would be awesome. Developers would sell more apps, and Verizon would actually be part of the ecosystem, instead of an outsider looking in. Vodafone which owns 50% of Verizon Wireless is already on board in Europe. If they could take the same approach in the United States it would be great for everyone.

A few quick calculations based on the overall size of the market, Verizon’s market share of that, and the popularity of carrier billing shows a lot of money on the table. I don’t know what cut RIM offers the carriers, but at 10% Verizon is passing up $3.2 Million in revenue. If the cut to the carriers is closer to 15% then Verizon is missing out on $4.8 Million in revenue per year.

Two years ago in the fall of 2009, Verizon ran a competition for developers. Only myself and 20 other devs signed up. I have since talked to about a quarter of these developers, and despite actually being involved from the beginning, the majority of us still do not have any apps in the Verizon store. It is time for Verizon to just do what is best for everyone, and work with AppWorld.