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The Google Effect? Verizon Opens It Up

This week, news broke that Verizon Wireless, the nation's second-largest wireless network provider, would open its network to third-party devices and applications. The move was a major shift for the telecommunications giant, which -- like other major telcom players -- has jealously restricted access to its network.

Why the change? In a word: Google.

The same company that has bedeviled Microsoft to no end this century has also been taking the fight to the telcom sector. As RDN Executive Editor Jeffrey Schwartz reported, Google on Nov. 5 launched a mobile platform called Android and formed the Open Handset Alliance with the backing of wireless players like T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm and Motorola. Google also hinted it might bid on the new wireless spectrum offered in auction by the FCC.

The moves upped the competitive stakes for wireless incumbents in an arena already charged by the emergence of public wireless LANs and technologies like WiMAX.

Said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of San Jose, Calif.-based Enderle Group: "I think it's a realization that the market is about to change. To be a survivor of the change that's to come, you want to be ahead of the change and aggressive and not wait until the change starts taking market share away from you."

For developers, the Verizon announcement could help open the mobile application floodgates. Enterprises have long been frustrated by the brittle nature of mobile platforms and networks, which typically require homogenous hardware to ensure reliability. Verizon Wireless said it will publish technical information for developers, and offer a testing lab for device and application approval. The resources should help developers craft applications that run reliably across multiple handsets and devices.

Could we be on the verge, finally, of a wireless renaissance? Or should development shops wait things out before they commit dollars and people to crafting a new generation of mobile apps? Let me know your thoughts. E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 11/28/2007

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