Underscoring the ways in which the smartphone app economy has supplanted the carrier-consumer relationship of old, Verizon announced to its users this week that it was closing Verizon Apps. The carrier’s own attempt to get into the app ecosystem on smartphones dominated by Google Play and Apple App Store began more than two years ago as Verizon Vcast Apps over two years ago. This separate section, often found on the deck of many Verizon Android and BlackBerry models, usually hosted a small collection of apps from both Verizon itself and third-party partners.
But in a blog post, Verizon acknowledges the obvious -- that “There’s now a whole new tech landscape in which both consumers and developers can interact like never before. We’re evolving our strategy to further simplify today’s experience and meet the needs of tomorrow.”
As Verizon itself recognizes in the post, most of the apps in its store replicated widely available apps in the more popular app markets like Google Play, Amazon and BlackBerry stores.
Starting in January, Verizon will begin the process of removing the Verizon Apps section from smartphone interfaces. The company says it will continue to support its developer partners via a new “AppLuvr” app that will help app makers distribute their wares to Verizon customers via Android markets. AppLuvr is an Android app that leverages recommendations from your social network to surface new app suggestions.
The arrival of smartphones and the app economy effectively disintermediated network operators from the mobile content market as consumers embraced the Google and Apple app markets as well as a host of third parties. Carriers, which once had total control of and a commercial stake in all the content their customers could see and select on their decks, suddenly found themselves out of the loop. Operators such as Verizon fought back by installing their own app stores on some of the smartphones they sold. But as Verizon itself appears to admit here, the generally small collection of apps tended to duplicate apps that were already available in the more familiar markets.