Can developers solve the discovery dilemma?

Can developers solve the discovery dilemma?

Does the answer to the mobile discovery dilemma rest with developers? Verizon Wireless thinks so. At last week's BREW 2008 event in San Diego, the operator's vice president of consumer product development Lee Daniels took the stage strumming an electric six-string to celebrate the breakthrough success of the Guitar Hero III Mobile game, but he struck an even deeper chord with attendees by promising Verizon will begin allowing developers a far more proactive role in promoting their own applications.

According to Daniels, mobile data now accounts for 23 percent of Verizon Wireless' combined revenue, and with data growth accelerating, the company will seek to tie together key drivers including enhanced merchandising, marketing and seamless access to the BREW platform across the device. Critical to the operator's plans: Improving discovery. "Distribution remains our focus, and we're opening up discovery via the web, mobile marketing and mass media," Daniels said. "New applications demand new responses to discovery. We need [developers] to take a bigger role in promoting your applications."

At last year's BREW event, Verizon Wireless' senior vice president of marketing and digital media John Harrobin admitted the operator was still struggling to integrate BREW Zone, which promised to open up retail possibilities to include content sales through the VZW.com website and other approved off-portal sites. "We are disappointed," Harrobin said at the time. "We want to sell more content but integration is harder than we expected." At BREW 2008 Daniels announced the BREW Zone integration is now complete, paving the way for a host of new merchandising opportunities: "We can now drive millions of transactions through the BREW ecosystem and move beyond the mobile phone."

Daniels added that in the third quarter, Verizon will introduce short code promotions to complement web sales of BREW applications, with a developer bulletin scheduled to follow within the next 60 days. Another innovation in the Verizon pipeline is hyperlinking, which Daniels said enables transaction growth by capitalizing on the increase of page view totals. New merchandising tactics like subscription pricing, variable pricing and value-added billing are also underway. All are steps in the right direction for an operator still finding it hard to make content not so hard to find. -Jason

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