Are e-book readers going to be the next big thing in wireless? Verizon Wireless chief executive Lowell McAdam said "four or five" of them are in various stages of development in the company's open development labs.
"We want to be smart enough to go where the customers drive us," McAdam said, citing e-book readers as an example of a category that appears to be hot at the moment. Asked about netbooks, Verizon executives said to "stay tuned."
Verizon last year allowed third-party hardware vendors to seek certification for their devices to be used on the company's network, so presumably the creators of these devices are planning to set up wireless content distribution, the way the Amazon Kindle uses Sprint's network to download e-books and other content.
Tony Lewis, vice president in charge of open development at Verizon, declined to name the companies who are developing the e-book readers that are seeking certification. But when asked if any of them might offer Amazon content (so that Amazon customers would have other hardware options than Kindles) he said, "That would make sense."
Lewis, McAdam and Verizon Communications chief executive Ivan Seidenberg answered reporters' questions following Seidenberg's keynote on the opening day of CTIA. Among other things, Seidenberg said Verizon was supporting the Joint Innovation Lab created by China Mobile, Softbank, and Vodafone in order to promote cross-platform mobile application development in hopes of speeding up new software delivery to customers who use a variety of devices with a number of operating systems.
Verizon Wireless also plans to begin testing its fourth-generation network technology, LTE (Long-Term-Evolution) in two markets by the end of the year, with commercial rollouts slated to start in 2010.