Familiar icons – at least to gamers – have started appearing in the Verizon Apps store for Android smartphones. Verizon on Tuesday said it has finished labeling every single app in its portal with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board’s nomenclature, giving parents a basic framework to determine whether any given app is appropriate for their children.
The U.S. carrier industry group CTIA and ESRB announced the project back in November, recruiting all four of the nationwide mobile operators as well as Microsoft to participate in the project. Verizon is the first to fully integrate the rating systems into its portal.
Noticeably absent from the initiative, however, were Google and Apple, which have their own mechanisms in place to gauge maturity level for apps in the Google Play and the iTunes Store. Those two markets distribute the vast majority of mobile apps. Their absence may be a huge a setback for ESRB’s nascent project, but Verizon and other carriers are likely to capitalize on discrepancy.
Carriers have always billed themselves as family-friendly service providers protecting their customers’ children from the darker corners of the internet (though often they used such claims to excuse their walled gardens). The ESRB system isn’t just rating for adult or violent content, it’s factoring in app capabilities such as presence and content sharing that normally don’t apply to console gaming. In a hyper-connected age, the bigger danger to children may well be Internet predators rather than foul language and bloody graphics. That could be a powerful incentive for parents to give Verizon Apps a chance.