VZW not giving up on BREW

In addition to officially opening the doors to its developer portal, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD) announced it is teaming up with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Internet Services (QIS) to promote growth on of the BREW platform. The two companies announced the partnership yesterday at Verizon’s Developer Conference in San Jose.

As part of the initiative, VZW will introduce an open catalog to simplify certification and on-boarding processes, giving developers support for free apps, simplified certification and improved time-to-market and transparency. Another new feature developed by Qualcomm subsidiary Xiam Technologies includes a recommendation engine to improve discovery in VZW’s catalog of thousands of BREW applications.

Qualcomm launched BREW in 2001 as a closed content retailing system keeping tight control over the entire value chain. Since 2005, however, Qualcomm has been working to decouple BREW’s components and ultimately open up the platform to the wider development community, which it recently did with the launch of Plaza Retail, a set of software tools for operators and third-party content retailers to support app stores over any operating system or network. Plaza Retail effectively separated its BREW content and its distribution platform.

Today’s announcement is significant given that Verizon, Qualcomm’s biggest BREW customer, is reaffirming its commitment to BREW – or at least indicating that it isn’t abandoning the platform entirely. Verizon took its first departure from BREW when it announced its Java app store last month, the soon-to-be-opened V Cast Apps storefront. Now BREW developers won’t lose their biggest app outlet, but they will be pushed to the lower or mid-tier level of handsets as VZW focuses on higher-end V Cast services. On the other hand, VZW is still working on a lot of other projects, including Java, open development, Android and Linux Mobile.

According to a VZW spokeswoman, the open catalog means that developers can put BREW apps on smartphones too, and VZW is open to all OSs going forward as those phones come onto its network. Still, given the variety of options available, it would be most logical to assume VZW will continue to use BREW for feature phones, but not much else.

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