Verizon announced that it is joining the ranks of mobile service providers embracing devices built on the open source Google Android operating system. Landing the largest mobile service provider in the United States is a coup for Android, and proves that the mobile operating system is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the mobile industry.
The partnership between Verizon and Google may be borne out of failed overtures by each to engage in some sort of relationship with Apple. Apple and Google have had a very public falling out and increasing rivalry over the past few months, with the rejection (or impossibly slow approval process according to Apple) of the Google Voice app for the iPhone representing the straw on the proverbial camel's back.
On the Verizon side, there have been rumors for some time that perhaps Apple would end the exclusivity agreement it has with AT&T as sole distributor of the iPhone in the United States. Those negotiations, or rumors, have failed to materialize.
The two scorned companies have joined forces and the partnership will help establish greater credibility for the Android operating system while also more than doubling the available customer base for Android-based devices in the United States.
T-Mobile, the fourth-place mobile service provider in the United States, was the earliest adopter of Google Android devices and it has more manufacturers providing Google Android devices and the largest portfolio of Android-based devices of any carrier. T-Mobile has had two blockbuster Android announcements recently with the Motorola Cliq and the Samsung Behold II.
Sprint also recently jumped on the Google Android bandwagon, announcing the addition of the Android-based HTC Hero to its lineup of mobile devices. The HTC Hero will be available beginning next week.
In addition to expanding the sphere of influence by forming these additional mobile service provider partnerships, Google has also made significant improvements in the Android operating system itself. The recent rollout of the Android 1.6 SDK, codenamed ‘Donut', makes Android a formidable mobile operating system platform for developing innovative and compelling smart phones.
Conspicuously absent from the roster of mobile service providers delivering Google Android devices is AT&T. It may be no coincidence that AT&T is also the exclusive provider of the Apple iPhone. There have been repeated rumors of AT&T adopting Google Android devices, and analysts have recently recommended that Apple could double iPhone sales by ending the AT&T exclusivity, but for now the two companies' fates are intertwined.
It is a testament to the success of the iPhone, but the industry seems to be shaping up into a battle of all devices and operating systems against the iPhone, and all mobile service providers against AT&T.
Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.