Verizon unveils Open Catalog program for Brew developers

SAN DIEGO--Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) launched its new Open Catalog initiative here at Qualcomm's Uplinq 2010 conference, promising Brew developers an enhanced and more simplified channel to market their applications to the operator's 56 million feature phone subscribers. "This is a revitalization of the Brew experience for our customers," said Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer John Stratton during a keynote appearance today. "It is very important to us to restate our commitment to the [Brew] category and find better ways for [developers] to build your business."

Developed in conjunction with Qualcomm, the Open Catalog effort spans all Verizon Wireless phones that support Brew, and emphasizes expanded developer control over content pricing and distribution. Brew developers can now offer free applications via the Verizon Wireless deck, incorporating carrier-billed micro-transaction mechanisms like in-app subscription offers and sales of digital goods. Verizon also will integrate Qualcomm's Xiam recommendation engine to improve app discoverability, and in late 2010 plans to introduce a new shopping client preloaded on new Brew devices and boasting a graphically rich user interface.

Stratton said Open Catalog also will reduce Brew developers' barriers to entry: Verizon Wireless will not enforce a minimum device porting requirement, and will slash app certification costs from $500 to $99. In addition, the carrier vows to certify Brew apps with 12 to 18 days, down from previous estimates of 25 to 30 days.

"We still sell a ton of feature phone products, and we see a good and robust opportunity here," Stratton said during a press question-and-answer session following his keynote. "For developers, when you look at our 56 million Brew customers--and with AT&T and Sprint also in the game--that's a boatload of opportunity." 

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