Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No Apple On Verizon Any Time Soon?

Bell and Telus in Canada are now joining Rogers in selling the iPhone, starting in November.  And we know that there are now three providers selling the iPhone in Britain, or there soon will be.  I had hoped that the same kind of announcement might also be coming for the United States.

Of course, outside of ATT, T-Mobile is the only major network that runs on GSM.  I still believe there is an outside chance of that but it is a way way outside of a chance.  And Verizon Wireless (VW)?  Well, CDMA, right?  Then conventional wisdom is that Apple will start selling the iPhone on Verizon once the next generation, LTE network, goes online.

But now?  Today?  

Former spectrum foes, Google and VW, who sparred over the 700Mhz rules and auctions, will now join forces to develop Google's Android devices and bring them quickly to the market (More at Phandroid).  And in what appear to be a shot at Apple and ATT, which I will now refer to as DA as in Double A (Apple and ATT), Verizon said it will support Google Voice.  It went on to say "either you have an open network or not."

And given the attention and time the FCC is putting into looking device deals like the one between the DA, this is a really loud and not so subtle shot.  

Then, there is also Verizon's commercial referencing Apple's slogan "there's an app for that" by changing it to "there's a map for that" in explaining why Verizon's 3G network is superior.  From that alone, it is difficult to gauge anything that might be going on between Apple and VW.  Though the reference is from an Apple commercial, the jab was at ATT's, to put it mildly, subpar 3G network.

Still, the mobile market is in flux.  Anyone who said a year ago that Google and VW will be working together as close friends as Google and Apple did would have been laughed out of the building.  

Right now, the attention is on this Android partnership between Google and VW.  And in the eyes of the probing FCC, it looks very good.  It sure puts DA in a bad light.  

However, six months to a year from now, things can change once again.  It's just that for folks who are holding out for the iPhone working on another network other than ATT's, you will be waiting for a while longer.

What kind of impact will this have on mobile warriors?  Choices.  More competition.  Innovation?  I'm not sure.  Outside of HTC, Motorola, and Samsung offering their own skins for their Android devices, Google seems to be playing catching or, at the very least, providing features that Android should have had to begin with from day 1.  To be fair, Apple's iPhone 1.0, while awesome, lacked many of today's features (cut and paste, anyone?).  

VW will no doubt integrate Android into more of its own offerings and app store.  The scary thing for an open platform like Android, there is already talk that there will specialized apps that only work on certain network.  Only on certain Android devices.  And as time go on, further fragmentation will accelerate.  Google doesn't mind so long as its apps and mobile search continue to appear on these devices.

The more immediate and dire change will be for RIM.  Storm was VW's darling and Blackberries will have a following, particularly, in the enterprise market.  Folks who want the iPhone will go with ATT.  Folks who want the Pre will go with Sprint.  

However, VW customers who wanted to stay with it because of the network will now have more than Blackberries to choose from.  That's going to be the biggest change coming out of today's VW-Google announcement.  VW will not be pushing RIM smartphones to compete with the iPhone as it once did.

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