“Verizon Wireless today announced that it will provide customers the option to use, on its nationwide wireless network, wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the company. Verizon Wireless plans to have this new choice available to customers throughout the country by the end of 2008.”Verizon Wireless11/27/2007
The year was 2007. Verizon was facing pressure for locking down their devices so the carrier announced a new Open Developer initiative to open up their network – specifically to “devices not offered by the company”. They claimed customers would be able to use “any apps, any device”, but that it turned out that Verizon didn’t consider a phone to be a device.
Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam, thought it would open the door to new innovation and growth, but they have yet to open their network for phones they did not sell. When referring to the new initiative, McAdams said, “Verizon Wireless is not changing our successful retail model, but rather adding an additional retail option for customers looking for a different wireless experience.”
Fast forward to 2010. Google unveils the Nexus One with support for T-Mobile and announces support for Verizon is coming soon (Spring 2010). The Nexus One was a special Android phone because Google would sell it unlocked directly to customers and cut out the middle man (the carrier).
This new approach to selling phones benefited the customer by giving them more choices. I purchased my Nexus One on day one and I was happy to pay full price to pair it with my no-contract Even More Plus plan on T-Mobile.
Common sense would tell you the carrier does not want to give up the sale (and software) of a phone, but Google must have made a sweet deal (or done some arm twisting) to get the carriers to fall in line. AT&T was the first to say ‘no thanks’ to the idea, so Google went ahead and still released a version which supported their network. Sprint was the last to weigh in, but they finally joined the party and said the Nexus One was a natural fit for their Android lineup.
Customers eagerly waited for the Nexus One on Verizon, but an official release date never surfaced. We predicted the phone could launch at CTIA last month, but Verizon remained tight lipped. As we anticipated Verizon announcing the device, they went on to officially unveil the Droid Incredible (which is basically a cousin of the Nexus One).
Now today we learned that Google will not be selling a Nexus One with Verizon support. This comes as a disappointment to potential customers who wanted to purchase the phone and Google who was hoping to have the N1 on all four carriers.
So why the change in direction from Verizon? That is the key question – one we may never get a real answer to. Both companies are currently playing nice, but clearly something is up. Google looked to be the dominant partner calling the shots, but now we see Verizon is beginning to push back.
If Verizon really wanted to carry the phone by now, Google would have let them place it in their retail stores (like Vodafone). This would have it compete directly with their other new Android phone (the Incredible), which someone did not want to happen.
Verizon did not initially want to treat HTC (maker of the N1 and Incredible) as a first-tier supplier, but their attitude changed 180-degrees when HTC’s brand became popular with U.S. consumers. When the Droid Incredible launches on April 29th, it will be Verizon’s flagship smartphone.
It would have been nice to see the Nexus One experiment on Verizon’s network, but I guess it was a little too open for the nation’s largest carrier.
Oddly, Verizon has now placed the spotlight on Sprint who is still scheduled to release its Nexus One availability soon. There must be a boatload of CDMA-based Nexii by now, so let’s all hope they work out a deal.
Let them hear it
We know there is a nice selection of insiders who visit this blog, so let them know what you think about Google and Verizon’s latest move. Who do you think made the decision to nix the Nexus One on Verizon? Does it even matter with the pending Droid Incredible? Were you waiting on the Verizon N1 and now considering switching to another carrier to get the device? Do you think Sprint will still launch the device?
A miniature recap of Verizon’s goal of being open:
- November 27, 2007: Verizon announces plans to open their network to support devices not offered by the company.
- October 6, 2009: Google and Verizon form a strategic partnership to “leverage (VZ’s) high-speed network and open Android platform for wireless innovation”.
- January 5, 2010: Google introduces the Nexus One and announces Verizon support coming in spring 2010.
- April 26, 2010: Google updates their Nexus One partnerships. Verizon support is no more. “Go buy an Incredible.”