Verizon Wireless, one of the longest customers for Qualcomm’s Brew platform, says it is committing to the feature phone app service despite three years of declining sales and a tendency of Brew subscribers to stop using the service after a few downloads.
Speaking at Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference, Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer said the company had questioned whether it should continue to invest in Brew but ultimately decided the platform was worth keeping. More than half of Verizon’s subscriber base is comprised of Brew-based devices.
“The obvious answer was to let Brew go and focus on other operating systems,” Stratton said, adding that the company ultimately decided it was “unwise to ignore” the 56 million Verizon subscribers using devices with Brew. “Looking at the fundamental economics, it’s a pretty good business.”
Verizon, who began offering apps on the Brew platform in 2003, began seeing declines in revenue from the Brew platform in 2007 as the early adopters who had been attracted to app downloads on Brew began defecting to smartphones.
The carrier also reported that most users quickly lost interest in the service after their initial introduction. “Their activity on Brew really plummets,” Stratton said, explaining usage trends on the Brew platform. “They download some ringtones, a wall paper and then never go back.”
Instead of abandoning the platform, Verizon decided to revitalize their Brew offerings by nearly halving the amount of time it takes to get an app certified and launching Qualcomm’s new Xiam recommendation platform. Verizon’s Open Catalogue process for Brew cuts the app approval process to 12 to 18 days from 25-30 days. “We were sort of over-the-top with our app certification process, particularly in the early days,” Stratton said in a media briefing after his speech.
Stratton also said the capabilities of the updated Brew MP platform would also accelerate adoption of the service. Before Brew MP came out, the platform did not allow free apps. The new Brew MP platform supports free and paid apps, as well as apps that are free but can but upgraded with micropayments. Stratton said developers with Brew apps on its network will ultimately be able to put ads in their feature phone apps.
“This is a revitalization of the Brew experience for our customers,” Stratton said.
The limitations of the Brew platform handicapped the service amid higher-performing app offerings from smartphone platforms like Android, iPhone and BlackBerry. Stratton said he was confident Verizon’s new Brew initiatives would boost adoption of the service. “I think this will be self-generating once it gets rolling,” he said.