Talking tech since 2003

In a press released earlier today (see below), Verizon and Google announced their strategic partnership to bring Android based devices (smartphones, netbooks, and even feature phones) to the Verizon Wireless Network.  The talks of this partnership have been ongoing now for about 18 months between Eric Schmidt (Google Chairman/CEO) and Lowell McAdam (VZW President/CEO).  The Android market is not nearly as big as Google would have liked by now, but, hopefully, by partnering with the biggest wireless provider in the U.S. (85 million customers) that will change.

Of course, Android is an open platform and everyone knows how famous Verizon is for their walled garden network.  Verizon’s network may be reliable, but it sure isn’t open (at least not yet).  They have been known to lock down their phones quite a bit.  I mean, for a period of time, I think Blackberry’s couldn’t even have GPS enabled.  I have also been saying for the longest time that Verizon most likely turned down the iPhone due to all of its capabilities, features, and functionality.  Verizon wasn’t ready to open its network for the iPhone.  Now, with the iPhone doing so well and Verizon’s lack of decent smartphones, they may not have any other choice but to give in and open their network a bit.

During the Q&A after the press release, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was asked whether Verizon plans to support Google Voice to which,  McAdam responded: “Yeah, I guess we do. You either have an open device or you do not.” It’s hard to deny to that statement.  Now to see if Verizon follows through and supports Google Voice and an open Android smartphone which will allow customers to get the most out of the phones capabilities.  The last thing I want to see if Verizon pushing their own software and locking down their Android based phones capabilities.  At the very least, give the higher end (smart)phones more functionality.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next few months.  Full press release below.

GROUNDBREAKING AGREEMENT BETWEEN VERIZON WIRELESS AND GOOGLE TO LEVERAGE HIGH-SPEED NETWORK AND OPEN ANDROID PLATFORM FOR WIRELESS INNOVATION

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Verizon Wireless and Google™ today announced a strategic partnership that will leverage the Verizon Wireless network and the best of the Android™ open platform to deliver leading-edge mobile applications, services and devices. Both companies view this agreement as an opportunity to offer consumers an array of products that combine the speed of the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G network with the flexibility of the Android mobile platform.

Integral to this agreement is a commitment by the companies to devote substantial resources to accelerate delivery of leading-edge innovation that will put unique applications in the hands of consumers quickly. The two industry leaders will create, market and distribute products and services, with Verizon Wireless also contributing the breadth of its nationwide distribution channels. Consumers will be able to purchase products resulting from the collaboration in Verizon Wireless retail and online stores.

Verizon Wireless and Google plan to co-develop several Android-based devices that will be pre-loaded with innovative applications from both parties as well as third-party developers. The family of Android phones on the Verizon Wireless network will come from leading handset manufacturers.

“The nation’s best wireless broadband network is a perfect complement to the innovation of Android-powered services and devices,” said Lowell McAdam, chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless. “Together, we’ll work to deliver a compelling new experience to our customers.”

“The Android platform allows Verizon Wireless customers to experience faster and easier access to the web from any location,” said Eric Schmidt, chairman and chief executive officer for Google. “Through this partnership, we hope to deliver greater innovation in the mobile space to consumers across the U.S.”

The agreement will come to fruition within the next few weeks as Verizon Wireless introduces Android-based handsets.

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