updated 08:35 am EST, Tue November 27, 2007
Verizon Any App Any Device
Verizon today hoped to shake up the US cellular industry by announcing a new strategy that will allow customers more choice of their own hardware and software. Nicknamed "Any Apps, Any Device," the option will let any cellphone, computer, or similar device that meets a certain minimum technical threshold run on the carrier's network and use its services. Testing will also certify those devices not already offered by Verizon to greenlight them for the company's network, the company says. These devices will be able to use any software users like rather than what Verizon dictates for its own handsets.
The provider sees the expansion as a "transformation" for the industry but notes that its core strategy of offering locked phones with customized, controlled software will remain intact. Whether prices will change for service plans for unrestricted devices is unknown, but the technical guidelines will be published by early 2008 and will see the open service available across all of Verizon's service areas by the end of 2008.
The move is largely considered an attempt to win favor with the government and public for the upcoming FCC auction of the 700MHz spectrum, which is expected to serve as the basis for future cellular or wide-area Internet services. Verizon recently dropped its resistance to open access rules won by Google for the auction despite a short-lived lawsuit and allegations that Verizon was engaged in questionable lobbying of Martin to allow auction winners to lock down access.
Google's Android platform and the accompanying Open Handset Alliance are also regarded as factors in Verizon's decision to open its network. The Linux-based mobile OS is designed in part to break the hold carriers have on software by allowing developers to easily write programs that can be freely installed and take advantage of specialized hardware features, such as Bluetooth or GPS.
Sprint and T-Mobile are already part of the OHA and may be joined by AT&T, though Verizon has yet to announce any plans to do the same.