Google and Verizon Wireless to develop handsets
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Washington: In a groundbreaking agreement, Google and Verizon Wireless said that they will work together to produce mobile devices based on the Internet-search giant's Android operating system that will access Verizon's network.
Verizon, jointly owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, serves more than 87 million customers. It is the biggest service provider yet to join forces with Google. This is also Verizon's latest attempt in a campaign to compete against Apple's popular iPhone, which AT&T exclusively carries in the U.S.
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said during a conference call, that talks about a partnership started about a year and a half ago. For Google, Verizon's commitment to open source platforms was critical to sealing the deal, said Schmidt.
Partly to illustrate Verizon's commitment to openness, McAdam said that Verizon would support Google's "Google Voice" phone management service, which gives users a single phone number to connect different phones. Users can manage their phone traffic through a Google Web site.
The two giants plan to co-develop several devices based on the Android system that will be preloaded with their own applications - plus others from third parties, a possible contender to Apple's huge iPhone application store. They will market and distribute products and services, with Verizon also contributing its nationwide distribution channels. The new Android phones will have 10,000 or more applications for users.
With Verizon Wireless planning to unveil some Android-based handsets in a few weeks, they see the deal closing in that time. The two companies said that they will devote "substantial resources" to the venture. The devices will be supplied by leading handset manufacturers. Motorola and South Korea's Samsung are among the handset makers that have announced they would use Android for some of their newest phones.
Verizon plans to launch two Android handsets this year, which the two companies see as the beginning of a family of Android devices to come. Currently there are nine different Android phones in the market. According to Andy Rubin, Vice President of engineering for the Android operating system, Google will monetize the venture in the same way in which it has made money from its core search business, through advertising.
"The real opportunity for growth is in the handset platform," said Rubin. "It's a more personal experience. You bring it with you all the time. Location services become more important and obviously that's something worth monetizing."