Verizon unleashed a one-two punch against AT&T and Apple starting with an ad campaign last night and ending this morning with an announcement and news conference revealing that Verizon will ship a number of Android-based phones this year to compete with the iPhone.
It started last night as viewers of the popular show "House" were treated to a new TV ad campaign that openly mocks the iPhone and AT&T. "If you want to know why some people have spotty 3G coverage," says the voice-over, "there's a Map for that". This is a play on words of the Apple iPhone slogan "There's an app for that", backed up by a map showing 5x better coverage than AT&T (which was mentioned by name).
Then Google and Verizon announced an agreement whereby the two companies will co-develop a number of Android-powered devices. Apparently they've already been working at it for some time because the first devices are supposed to hit the market in a few weeks. The devices will likely be running Android 1.6.
In a move sure to please developers, Verizon promises that phones will be fully open, meaning they will include the Android Market and run programs that Apple rejected on their platform such as Google Voice. Unlike Apple, Google shares 30% of Market revenue with the carrier, which makes their platform more lucrative for companies like Verizon.
When you take this together with other recent announcements, AT&T is the lone hold-out on the Android express. They continue to bet everything on the iPhone, while everyone else is picking Android. The lines are drawn, and the battle is about to start in earnest. The winners are the consumers who benefit from the competition, and the developers who can tap into this vast new customer base.