Verizon Wireless and Google today announced a partnership that they say "will leverage the Verizon Wireless network and the best of the Android open platform to deliver leading-edge mobile applications, services and devices."
What does that mean? Well, for starters, it means the imminent release of Android smartphones on Verizon's network. But it also marks the beginning of a relationship that could give Apple and AT&T some real headaches.
The companies have committed to teaming up on Android-based devices, services and applications. However, this doesn't mean Google is getting into the hardware business, but rather will work in collaboration with OEMs to build open-source handsets for Verizon's network.
In a Webcast today with Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, openness was the word of the day, and what emerged was a picture of a carrier/OEM relationship that looks like the polar opposite of Apple and AT&T's closed system.
In questions after the talk, McAdam confirmed that the new handsets will come pre-loaded with Google Voice and Android Market. He was quick to add that this is happening now.
"We expect to have two [handsets] by the end of the year, which will just be the beginning of a multi-year roadmap," McAdam said, adding that the devices won't just be handsets, but a variety of devices.
When asked whether this would affect Verizon's relationship with Microsoft, McAdam said the new partnership won't detract from existing ones. "We don't see expanding business opportunities with one partner as detracting from another," McAdam said.
Android has experienced strong momentum as of late, and this most recent move goes a long way to proving its true influence on the mobile ecosystem. According to Verizon and Google, the future is wide open.
T-Mobile USA came out with the first phone based on Google's operating system last year. It recently announced that it will carry Android phones from Samsung and Motorola. Sprint Nextel is also set to release an Android phone.