When Google first unveiled the Android platform along with the Open Handset Alliance, there were two notable carriers absent: AT&T and Verizon. With the recent talk of extending their iPhone exclusivity, it could be years before Android ever makes its way onto AT&T. However, Verizon has begun to warm to an open source mobile platform. Last year they joined the Linux Mobile Foundation(LiMo) and some experts think Verizon will be the second US carrier to launch an Android device.
Back in 2007, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said it made sense to get behind Android. “We’re planning on using Android,” McAdam told BusinessWeek. “Android is an enabler of what we do.” Since then, Verizon has shown a fear of Google’s intentions and been reluctant to jump on the Android bandwagon. Without a killer consumer smartphone, they may soon be forced into submission in order to compete with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.
Verizon’s network runs on the same CDMA technology as Sprint. If manufacturers like Samsung are already making Android devices for CDMA, it would be easy to bring them over to Verizon. Starting in late 2009, Verizon will begin to roll out its 4G networking which uses Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
LTE has become a global standard and many of the OHA members are working with the technology including Motorola, Ericson, LG, and NTT docomo. It would make sense if a manufacturer like Motorola or Fujitsu releases a LTE device that it would find its way to Verizon.
The minute plans offered by Verizon Wireless are comparable to T-Mobile and Sprint. However, their data and text options appear to be more expensive than the rest. Verizon does not offer an unlimited text plan, but does have several tiers to choose from:
- $5/month – 250 messages
- $10/month – 500 messages PLUS unlimited in network texting
- $15/month – 1500 messages PLUS unlimited in networking texting
- $20/month – 5000 messages PLUS unlimited in networking texting
For data plans we have two options:
- $29.99/month – Email and web for smartphone
- $44.99/month – Unlimited data usage
I’m not sure of the differences in the data plans, but even the cheapest data plan and 500 messages is more than T-Mobile or Sprint. Hopefully we will see new packaged deals that are more competitive with the competition.
Update from reader Steve: “The first (lesser) of the two is the basic plan required to use any phone that sends pix/flix messages and uses e-mail (including Blackberry). The unlimited data plan is for corporate users who require a constant connection for a smartphone. For example, one who uses an Exchange server with direct push, would need an unlimited data plan.”
There are many possible hardware partners for Verizon but the most likely are HTC, LG, Samsung, Motorola, and Acer. We know Samsung is making a CDMA phone for Sprint and I believe they are most likely to release a phone for Verizon first. HTC is currently making GSM/Edge phones for Android and a CDMA phone is most likely a long shot at this time. LG and Motorola have not revealed their Android phones, but more details should be leaking over the next few months.
Acer announced a new smartphone lineup at the recent Mobile World Congress and is experimenting with Android on desktop PCs. They also hinted at a netbook coming to Verizon, but it is unlikely to run Android. Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci said, “For a Netbook, you really need to be able to view a full Web for the total Internet experience,” Wong said. “And Android is not that yet.”
With their recent acquisition of Alltel Wireless, Verizon solidified their position as the largest United States wireless carrier. Since they are number one in subscribers, they are taking a wait and see approach with Android. T-Mobile took a gamble on Android hoping to gain market share and it looks like their decision is paying off. Unless Verizon tries to beat Sprint to the punch, I would not expect any Android devices from them until 2010.
If you are a current Verizon subscribers, what are your thoughts about Android coming to your carrier? Are you content to wait another year? Would you purchase an Android netbook from Verizon?