About a week ago, we noted that Verizon was gearing up to launch its own app store for Android phones. This app store, called V CAST Apps, would be completely separate from Android’s existing Market for apps. In other words, it’s Verizon kicking their partner Google in the man region.
Of course, we all knew neither side would spin it that way. And sure enough, today we have Verizon’s take. During their Verizon Developer Community Conference earlier this afternoon, the company took the time to respond to the charges that they were taking over control of Android devices with maneuvers such as this. Jkontherun has a good overview of what was said, but Verizon itself was tweeting key parts. Here’s my favorite:
V CAST Apps is NOT out to take over the phone. It’s about choice, and about simplicy [sic] – carrier-billing — and quality — great apps.
Oh Jesus. Here we go again. It’s not about control or money — no, of course not. It’s about “choice”. Excuse me while I vomit in my mouth.
Does anyone really believe that Verizon really cares about choice here? What they care about is not ”becoming a commodity connectivity provider,” as James Kendrick puts it. And that’s fair enough, there’s nothing wrong with a company wanting to be successful and maintain their success. But I’m sick of this spin that all of this is for the betterment of all. Verizon cares about making money just like every other company and that’s why they’re doing this.
But there are two main reasons I have a problem with all of this. First, Verizon has proven itself to be incapable of making a decent consumer experience. I’ll refer back to my experience with the Motorola RAZR which was delayed for many months so Verizon could load it up with their crap UI and V CAST junk. And now we’re seeing it with the Droid Verizon phones. They’re packed to the gills with garbage compliments of Verizon. There is no question that Google needs to improve the Android Market experience, but as the creators of Android, I have much more faith in them doing that than with Verizon circumventing it.
Second, here’s what really annoys me: believe it or not, I really like the idea of Android. I love the idea of an OS ecosystem that works across a range of carriers. In the U.S., Apple isn’t doing this, Android is. I like anything that gives the carriers less power. The problem is that Verizon is now using Android’s openness to ruin that approach.
Verizon is essentially making Verizon Android phones different from all other Android phones. Say I buy an app through the V CAST app store then a year down the line I buy another Android device on Sprint. Guess what? It won’t work on the new device. This was supposed to be an open ecosystem — instead, it’s turning out to be very, very fragmented. We’re seeing now that a Verizon Android phone and a Sprint Android phone will soon only share a bit of branding in common. The harmonious ecosystem is being razed.
And all of this doesn’t seem to bode well for the prospects of a Verizon iPhone. Does anyone believe for a second that Apple is going to let Verizon open their own app store on the iPhone? Not a chance. They’ll be lucky if they get a V Cast content app pre-loaded on there — you can bet Apple doesn’t even want that. So why would Verizon want to have anything to do with a device that will turn them into the “commodity connectivity provider” when Google is giving them the keys to the castle?
And so, despite the best efforts of Apple and Google over the past few years, the carriers are now striking back. And it’s us, the consumers, who will lose as a result. How’s that for “choice”?