Verizon Wireless said today it will begin to shutter its own branded app store in January, killing an offering that few customers knew existed in the first place. The carrier made a point of saying that nearly all the Android and BlackBerry titles that are available through its store are already available through Google Play, BlackBerry App World or elsewhere.
I was skeptical about Verizon’s effort to become an app distributor when it launched service more than three years ago by embedding its storefront software on some smartphones. But it was Verizon’s execution that was flawed rather than the overall strategy: The operator hoped to compete with the flagship app stores rather than serving as a complementary store. Verizon had a chance here to differentiate itself from other distributors by solving the discoverability issue, for instance, or by serving as a kind of curator of only the best apps. Instead, it failed to add any real value for consumers and failed to innovate. Which, for a U.S. carrier, should have been expected from the start.