Those winds of change at Verizon Wireless are swirling. Just a few days after opening up its network, Verizon Wireless is planning on supporting Google's Android platform.
BusinessWeek quotes Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam saying that the case for Android is pretty good. "We're planning on using Android," says McAdam.
It doesn't get much more clear than that.
Let's do the brief Verizon Wireless recap.
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. Now Verizon Wireless hops on the Android train.
A cynic would say Verizon Wireless is just jumping through these hoops for the FCC's 700 Mhz wireless spectrum auction, but that misses the point. Verizon Wireless has some solid business reasons for opening up: It stays relevant, it can cut costs and it could become the preferred wireless network for the masses. And oh yeah customers may get some benefit too.
As a Verizon Wireless customer, however, these steps are promising to me. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless can save some money. BusinessWeek writes:
When Verizon Wireless was founded in 2000, it ran 27 call centers to provide customer service. The company cut back to as few as 17 centers at one point, but the count is now back to 25, each with about a thousand employees. The company's 2,300 stores, staffed by 20,000 employees, are also costly. While workers in those stores used to spend nearly the entire day signing up new customers, now only a tenth of their time is consumed by new subscribers. Instead, the bulk of their energy goes to helping current subscribers with questions and problems. McAdam & Co. decided the business model was not sustainable. "If we get to 150 million customers, boy, that's a lot of overhead," says McAdam.
In an open-access model, though, Verizon Wireless won't offer the same level of customer service as it does for the roughly 50 phone models featured in its handset lineup. Though the company will insist on testing all phones developed to run on its network in the open-access program, Verizon plans only to ensure the wireless connection is working for customers who buy those devices. "They have to talk to their handset provider or their application provider if they have particular issues," McAdam says.
Add it up and Verizon Wireless will get some ROI, good press and more customers. This opening up thing isn't so bad at all.