The Android Market is the place to find thousands of apps for the platform. Google has provided the ability for carriers to offer branded areas of the Market for promoting apps designed for use by customers using Android phones on that carrier’s network. Verizon has used its “aisle” of the Android Market, dubbed VCast Apps, to provide apps to access the carrier’s VCast services, along with some third party apps like the Amazon Kindle app. Sprint’s area in the Android Market just appeared on the EVO 4G. The Sprint aisle is a bit different than the Verizon market, as it contains no Sprint apps.
A carrier-branded area of the Android Market makes sense, as it makes finding special apps easier for customers. There are now thousands of apps in the Market, and finding a specific app can be a challenge. Both the Verizon and Sprint areas are accessed via a tab on the Android Market home screen, making them easy to find.
It is not clear what purpose Sprint has for its branded store, as presently only third party apps are listed. Most of the apps Sprint has listed are free apps, and while some take advantage of features on the phone such as the Fring app used for video chats, most do not. Some listed apps are standards — Foursquare, Twidroyd (Twitter), Pandora and The Weather Channel among them. There are also a few paid apps in the Sprint store — it is not clear if these developers have a deal with Sprint to get them included in the special store. Sprint may be planning to release some apps designed to access network features, although the company has made no announcements on this front.
These carrier-specific areas of the Android Market are good business for both the carrier and the Android platform as they provide a convenient area for customers to find apps designed to work with the specific network. It will be interesting to see if these special aisles in the Market become a place for carriers to share in app revenues by making deals with developers and floating their apps to the top of the customer’s market visit.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One