Verizon opens Application Innovation Center, plans VCast revamp

Verizon opens Application Innovation Center, plans VCast revamp

Verizon has opened the doors of an Application Innovation Center (AIC), a sort of sister facility to its Massachusetts-based LTE Innovation Center. Located in San Francisco, with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and just a stone's throw from Silicon Valley's "growing nexus of developers," said Verizon, it has created the Center as place where developers large and small can work "create, optimize and polish their ideas and turn them into viable applications for wireless customers."

The facility features private labs, larger, collaborative labs, office space for engineers and developer relations team members, and demonstration and seminar areas.

Verizon went beyond ping pong tables to cool-ify the place. It created a tremendous touch-based, interactive "app wall" that — harkening the app orbs in Verizon's "Droid Does" ads — features orbs of apps that can be manipulated, searched and downloaded from the wall. And because the wall supports 32 touch points at once, it can be used by several users at once.

Other cool stuff includes a developer lab where 3D games can be played and tested; VGo, a remotely controlled (like, from anywhere) LTE-enabled robotic telepresence  unit (a less-fun way of saying "robot"); and a TouchTunes digital jukebox that sort of looks like an enormous smartphone.

In September, Verizon plans to also introduce a new version of VCast Apps, the little-loved app shop located on its handsets. Kyle Malady, Verizon's vice president of network and technology, admitted to CIO magazine that Verizon had "missed the mark a little bit" with its first version of the storefront, but that it has a new version planned that will be a lot easier for developers to use, making it possible to get proposed apps available for purchase within two weeks.

Research firm Canalys has reported that carriers are in an advantageous position to offer smaller, more curated app environments to subscribers. (CP: With app numbers rising, so are app-selling opportunities) .

"The data [wireless carriers] hold leaves them well positioned to propose targeted marketing services, such as promotions and recommendations, as well as richer editorial guidance, better localization, improved security and simpler billing processes," Canalys analyst Tim Shepherd noted in a July report.

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