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VCast Apps Google/Verizon Romance Going Sour?

Verizon subscribers who own an Android smartphone may already see the V Cast Apps store on the Android Market--it's the third tab at the top, listed as "Verizon" and sitting to the right of "Apps" and "Games" on the home page (that's how it appears on the DROID, at least). Although Verizon apps can be found outside the V Cast space within the Market, this area typically lists Verizon-specific apps--VZ Navigator for DROID 2, V Cast Video, V Cast Tones, etc--and a handful of highlighted 3rd-party items that seem to shift on a monthly basis.

But recent reports indicate that Verizon plans to remove the V Cast section from the Android Market and install the service as a separate application. Unnamed sources said that Verizon didn't want to merely be a side portal, but rather offer a full-fledged marketplace that ties into the subscriber's account. This means that games, digital comics, or whatever else Verizon plans to host will not require a credit card, but instead will be charged to the subscriber and appear on next month's bill.

There's also speculation that the Verizon store may sport a better interface. App submissions will be free, but Verizon will require final approval before going live. Given the current state of the Android Market--cluttered with subpar apps, disguised malware, and highly unnavigable--Verizon's approach may be a welcome one to Android owners.

Recently Verizon ruffled Google's feathers by making Microsoft's Bing the default search engine on a number of upcoming Android-based smartphones. Although the future models in question weren't revealed, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the Bing pre-load is part of a 5-year mobile search pact signed by both parties in the first half of 2009. Currently the Bing app is available for free on the Android Market, offering maps, directions, and more.