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Verizon Working to Woo Developers

verizonlogoVerizon Wireless’s tie-up with Android was headline news yesterday — and for good reason (GigaOM Pro, sub. required) — but lost in all the hype was the company’s fusillade of press releases outlining its developer outreach initiative. In an obvious effort to attract the attention of the new kingmakers of the mobile realm, the carrier said more than 1,000 coders have joined its Verizon Develop Community, which launched just a couple of months ago.

Verizon also announced semi-finalists in its first-ever contests for mobile apps, and if the list anything to go by, it’s clear the company is sticking to its buttoned-down image as it moves into the world of app stores. The 19 apps are largely time-saving and information-based offerings, yet few are the kind of innovative, eye-catching apps that have helped fuel excitement around Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone. (To be sure, the first platform Verizon’s effort will support is BlackBerry, which isn’t the sexiest or most sophisticated mobile OS around.) Regardless, the contest could see a grand-prize winner take home hundreds of thousands of dollars, contingent on sales of the application.

The operator also outlined the roles of its four key partners in its app store, V Cast Apps, which is slated for launch later this year:

  • Amdocs (s dox) will handle transactions, including enabling developers to track revenues and usage information of their applications via a customizable online dashboard. Verizon is touting “a reliable and accurate settlement cycle” in the hopes of drawing developers to its storefront.
  • Mobile Complete’s DeviceAnywhere, which serves as a kind of virtual testing lab for applications, has been tapped to help developers build and deploy their offerings across a variety of Verizon handsets. DeviceAnywhere will provide remote access to more than 150 Verizon phones via the Internet, enabling developers to use each device’s features and functions to ensure apps are optimized for the handsets. Mobile Complete is a 6-year-old startup whose backers include Motorola Ventures (s mot) and Innovacom VC.
  • Netpace will provide the content management, work-flow and provisioning aspects of Verizon’s platform to deliver a streamlined, transparent experience for developers. The 13-year-old company’s solution delivers information such as development resources, premium content placement, click-through contracts and reporting in support of developers.
  • Lastly, Verizon V Cast Apps is built on Sun Microsystem’s (s java) Content Delivery Server, which will allow the carrier to manage and deliver mobile apps and content across its network. Sun will also provide the technology that developers will use to upload and manage their mobile apps via the VDC submission portal.

I’ve criticized Verizon for its V Cast Apps effort, which I think is unnecessary and potentially confusing for consumers in the age of simple, platform-specific stores such as Android Market and Research In Motion’s (s rimm) App World. And Verizon’s reputation for heavy-handedness is sure to make some developers wary. But there’s no denying Verizon’s reach, and trotting out established partners like Amdocs — whose roots in mobile transactions go back to its 2006 acquisition of Qpass — is probably a good way of assuring veteran developers that a solid, accurate billing system is in place. Only time will tell, though, whether Verizon’s app store will be attractive enough to lure developers, who have so many other attractive storefronts available to them.

One Response to “Verizon Working to Woo Developers”

  1. Dave Ginsburg, who works across the hall from me here at InnoPath, hit on some similar points in The Operators Strike Back: The Next Generation of App Stores posted here:

    In some ways a single, unified storefront, one per platform, would be the best of all worlds, as critical mass is needed to attract the best developers and customers. Then again, most platform providers don’t have pre-existing billing relationships with credit card holding customers like Apple does with iTunes, which perhaps tilts things in the direction of the operators, who do have that billing relationship.

    There will certainly be some noise and excitement before these things are all settled.