Going Beyond Devices: Verizon Wireless, Google Android Team Up

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On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless and Google unveiled a partnership that will bring devices based on the Google Android operating system to Verizon's network.

In a joint Webcast with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam explained that the partnership is the next step in Verizon Wireless' commitment to an open environment. The two went on to state that the joint venture will go beyond devices, with both companies contributing substantial resources.

Although the Google Android OS has been available for quite some time, with Verizon being the third U.S. carrier to carry devices running it, Schmidt stated the obvious, which is that this is a major milestone for the platform. With Verizon having the largest network and customer base in the country, the partnership will give a big boost to a platform that has already been gaining market share at a fast rate.

When asked if the announcement had anything to do with the current Federal Communications Commission probe regarding Net neutrality, McAdam explained that discussions related to the deal began approximately 18 months ago.

Although the two companies will work together to create, market and distribute products and services, with Verizon handling the logistics through its distribution channels, the actual hardware will still be manufactured by third parties. While no names have been publicized yet, the two CEOs claimed that the initial devices will be announced over the next few weeks, with two expected to be available this year. With Google focusing on Web-related and location-based services, the agreement is expected to greatly multiply its reach in the mobile marketplace.

The companies went on to stress that their plans include a family of devices and the partnership will not be limited to just smartphones and PDAs. When asked if this means Verizon will support Google Voice, McAdam said that the company can't talk about being committed to an open environment without supporting it.

With the agreement, Google is in position to become a much bigger player in the wireless arena. In addition, that success will most likely trickle down to the third-party Android developers, whose numbers will most likely grow now that there is an opportunity to reach a larger range of customers. The months ahead are surely going to be interesting as open source prepares to take a giant step forward.

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