Verizon, Google Team For Android Devices - InformationWeek

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12:29 PM

Verizon, Google Team For Android Devices

Jointly, the wireless carrier and search giant will create, market, and distribute a variety of Android-powered services, smartphones, and netbooks.

Verizon Wireless and Google announced Tuesday that together they will bring to market a variety of Android-powered devices to the largest U.S. wireless operator.

The companies will jointly create, market, and distribute products and services that will utilize the Google's Android mobile operating system. During a conference call, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said these products would include smartphones, feature phones, netbooks, and other mobile devices. Two phones are expected to be released by the end of the year, and the companies said those handsets would be introduced in the next few weeks.

"The Android platform allows Verizon Wireless customers to experience faster and easier access to the Web from any location," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in a statement. "Through this partnership, we hope to deliver greater innovation in the mobile space to consumers across the United States."

The move will likely focus on the consumer market initially, as most current Android devices are aimed at mainstream users. Google said it plans to make future version of the Linux-based operating system more enterprise-friendly, and this could potentially eventually lead to features such Microsoft Exchange being baked into the source code. Verizon said its Android devices will come with the Android Market preloaded, and the wireless operator will support Google Voice. Verizon will be preloading some of its apps onto the devices, as well as tailoring the OS to provide a distinctive user experience.

The announcement is not much of a surprise to Forrester analyst Charles Golvin because the carrier has made multiple announcements and initiatives aimed at opening up its network. The Google-backed OS has also been picking up momentum lately, with Sprint Nextel bringing out its Android-powered Hero soon. T-Mobile announced its fourth Android handset this week. Golvin said it will be interesting to see how Verizon customizes the OS in order to stand out from the crowd.

"I think it's going to reflect the real promise of Android," he said. "It's not going to be a uniform experience like some of the Symbian devices that aren't sold through carrier channels, but instead we're seeing different Android flavors for various mobile operators."

Golvin said the move will give Verizon some more ammunition to battle AT&T's iPhone, but he stopped short of saying it would lead to an equivalent. He said the major difference is that Apple's App Store is almost an "order of magnitude larger" than the Android Market in terms of the number of programs and developer mindshare.

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