Just a few hours ago, I received a text message from Verizon Wireless announcing that its in-house app store, Verizon Apps or VZ Apps, will be closed in January 2013. However starting this month, subscriptions that are charged directly to the subscriber's bill through this storefront will be renewed for 30 days one last time.
"To meet the changing expectations of our customers and app developers our mobile application storefront, Verizon Apps, will begin shutting down in January 2013," the company said on Monday. "Most of the apps found in Verizon Apps are also available for download and purchase in other app stores, like Google Play and Amazon."
The news isn't surprising given what Verizon offered through its exclusive app store. In several cases, the company placed a pricetag on many apps offered for free on Google Play, yet the Big Red also provided an optional subscription-based model so that users can play, complete, and move on to the next app without having to make a purchase. The storefront also made it easy to subscribe to music services like Slacker Radio, Rdio and MOG.
But with carrier billing now available on Google Play for Verizon Wireless customers, it just didn't make sense to have its own storefront as well. Verizon's carrier billing service went live within the last few weeks, allowing subscribers to not only charge apps to their monthly bill, but music, movies, TV shows and more. And although the spending limit is only $25 per month per phone, Verizon likely just couldn't compete with Amazon and Google's own library of delicious media.
In addition to carrier billing, Verizon Wireless has its own portal on Google Play that's only available for Big Red device owners. Thus, the company can still dish out and update its exclusive apps like My Verizon Mobile, Verizon Mobile Security, Verizon Messages and more without the need for a standalone (and probably costly) virtual storefront.
"The Verizon Developer Community will continue to work closely with developers to bring new and innovative mobile apps to you through these and other distribution channels," Verizon said.
Curiously, Verizon Video is no longer listed in the Verizon portal, but can still be located on Google Play... is that finally on the way out too thanks to Google and Amazon?