updated 01:10 pm EST, Wed December 1, 2010
Verizon on Android popularity, phone 'by' mid-2011
Verizon as part of its 4G launch claimed itself directly responsible for the popularity of Android and also clarified its device plans. Google's mobile OS "took off" when it launched on Verizon with the Motorola Droid, the carrier said, and 4G was likely to do the same this Sunday when the LTE network when live. Both Android and 4G were on T-Mobile and Sprint earlier, it implied, but didn't catch on.
The claims are at least partly accurate. The original Droid has consistently been the most popular Android phone in the world when tracked by mobile ad providers such as Millennial. It was a consistent strong seller and was facing periodic shortages even shortly before it was discontinued in favor of devices like the Droid 2 and Droid X. T-Mobile's G1 launched a year earlier, but Android trailed well behind the BlackBerry and iPhone platforms both in the US and worldwide until then.
Verizon is still the largest single carrier for Android and has led critics to accuse it of compromising its "don't do evil" principle for the sake of propping up its main cellular partner. It suggested exempting wireless from neutrality rules to please Verizon despite years of insisting that all network types had to treat traffic fairly.
The importance could underscore a potential vulnerability in Android. Analysts have suggested that Verizon iPhones could be more successful than at AT&T if announced as expected early next year. Apple wouldn't directly supplant Google at Verizon but could detract from Android sales by catching those customers who had really wanted an iPhone but refused to switch to AT&T.
Along with the commentary on platforms, Verizon clarified its smartphone plans and said that LTE phones would arrive "by" mid-2011, leaving room for releases earlier in the year. One of these should be the Incredible HD, but other HTC phones and possible models from Motorola, RIM and others could likewise appear.
Officials further hinted that tablets would play a major role in its 4G rollout. The high bandwidth and low lag lent themselves very well to video based apps, so users should "keep that in mind," it said. Possible candidates could involve an upgraded version of the MotoPad as well as an upgraded BlackBerry PlayBook. The iPad may get a 4G upgrade as Apple has been drawn in, although this wouldn't happen until the next iPad revision at this stage.