Verizon Wireless Reaffirms Commitment To Building An App Store

Verizon Wireless will soon extend its app store beyond BlackBerrys to Android phones, and says it will be running on triple the number of phones, or roughly 18 handsets, by the end of the year. The announcements were made at Verizon’s own developer conference today in Las Vegas, where it reaffirmed its commitment to creating a competing storefront for selling applications despite facing steep challenges that led to multiple delays over the past year.

Verizon’s VP of consumer product solutions Greg Haller, said in a morning presentation that Verizon has missed deadlines, but that the “whole team has learned a lot, and with that behind us, we are looking forward to a big future.” He also cleared up a couple of what he called misconceptions about VCAST apps, which is sometimes perceived as creating more fragmentation in the space because developers will have to submit their applications to more than one place. “VCAST Apps is not out to take over your phone, it’s not about preventing other app stores, or preventing apps to be downloaded through the browser or other means, this is about choice for our customers,” he said. Other larger publishers look at Verizon’s app store as an opportunity if it presents a better retail experience to consumers than what’s currently available in the marketplace.

In addition, the company announced a number of partnerships at the event that will help developers build applications, such as gaining access to text messaging, location-based services, presence information and more. For example, Ground Truth will provide developers with the ability to access demographics and other stats; Urban Airship will enable developers to provide push notifications within apps; Mobile Roadie will let users build and manage their own applications through drag-and-drop tools.

Here’s some of the information released today (via Verizon’s developer blog):

— VCAST Apps will offer a sales channel from the desktop and web in addition to a store on the phone.

— Verizon will share 70 percent of revenues with developers, and developers will set the price of the app.

— It’s going to improve its turnaround time from when developers submit an app to when it goes to market to 14 days. Haller: “We know we have to be better, and the entire Verizon team is focused on getting what you need when you need it.”

— Verizon plans to open an “Application Innovation Center” in the Bay Area next year.