Carrier-based app stores must change (or fade away)

With all  the  new OS-based  mobile device application stores popping up lately, it’s easy to forget that carrier-based app stores are still around. I admit they slipped my mind until I flipped through today’s paper and stumbled upon the Verizon Wireless flyer advertising their phone apps  (my wife and I enjoy the quaint tradition of coffee and newspaper on Sunday morning). I  was intrigued until I checked  out the website and then remembered why at least this carrier-based store is better left forgotten.

$4 a month for eBay access?!?

$4 a month for eBay access?!?

Yes, even in the face of competition from OS-based app stores offering  dedicated eBay apps at no charge, not to mention regular web access to eBay,  Verizon Wireless has the audacity to charge a monthly subscription for this. And not a piddly amount like 25 cents, but $3.99 a month, something you can  really feel in your wallet. To put that into perspective, if you wanted this on two phones for two years, the accumulated fee would be $191.52. By contrast, with Verizon’s current “buy one, get one free”  sale, you can get two BlackBerry Storms for $199.99 with two year contract. Keep in mind, that $191.52  fee  is  just to check eBay. You want maps or visual voice mail or anything else, the cheaper solution  becomes the  Storm or some  other versatile smartphone, even without the sale.

As smartphones continue to permeate the non-business consumer market and OS-based app stores reach more users, I don’t see how  this type of subscription-based  sales model can continue.  What amazes me is that they’re actually advertising their app store, as if  lack of  consumer awareness is the problem.  No, the problem is  consumers  become aware of  that  $4 a month price tag and say, “No thanks.” Verizon, I give your app sales system another year of life tops, then it’s time to match the competition or get killed by it.