Verizon Wireless is opening its technical kimono to developers so third party devices and software can readily plug into the company's network. With the move, Verizon Wireless is promising an "any apps, any device" option in 2008. With Tuesday's move it's pretty clear that Verizon Wireless is reacting to potential competition--and that's a good thing. First, Apple's iPhone launches and Verizon Wireless suddenly gets fashionable with its handsets. Then Google launches its Open Handset Alliance and within weeks Verizon Wireless is opening up to developers. Verizon Wireless plans to publish the technical specifications for its network in early 2008.
Coincidence? Of course not.
Now we could rib Verizon Wireless for being nudged by external forces, but if its timeline is correct the company will have a wide range of third-party applications on its network before the Open Handset Alliance really gets rolling. The Open Handset Alliance just launched its Android software development kit. In a statement, Verizon Wireless says:
In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.
Following publication of technical standards, Verizon Wireless will host a conference to explain the standards and get input from the development community on how to achieve the company’s goals for network performance while making it easy for them to deliver devices.
Verizon Wireless says it will allow customers to use devices, software and applications that aren't offered by the company. Given Verizon Wireless' girth this strategy could add to the network's appeal. The current retail options will still be there, but Verizon Wireless may be able to poach customers to its network from the likes of AT&T and Sprint.
Simply put, Verizon Wireless is really backing up claims that mobile access is all about the network. The network becomes the big selling point going forward. And if developers flock to the Verizon network the company could maintain its momentum.
Perhaps this development will lead to a new class of bring your own customers that take their favorite apps and devices to any network.