Verizon, Google Developing iPad Rival
Verizon Wireless is working with Google Inc. on a tablet computer, the carrier’s chief executive, Lowell McAdam, said Tuesday, as the company endeavors to catch up with iPad host AT&T Inc. in devices that connect to wireless networks.
The work is part of a deepening relationship between the largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers and Google, which has carved out a space in mobile devices with its Android operating system. Verizon Wireless last year heavily promoted the Motorola Droid, which runs Google’s software.
“What do we think the next big wave of opportunities are?” Mr. McAdam said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “We’re working on tablets together, for example. We’re looking at all the things Google has in its archives that we could put on a tablet to make it a great experience.”
Verizon Wireless declined to discuss details on the timing or the manufacturer of a such a tablet. Google’s role in the tablet wasn’t immediately clear, though Mr. McAdam mentioned it in the context of the discussions the two companies have about bringing new smartphones to market.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the Verizon tablet, but said anyone can use the company’s mobile software to create phones and other devices.
Google has said it is working with hardware makers and carriers to create lightweight computers that run its software. As rivals such as Apple Inc. introduce tablets like the iPad, the Internet giant is seeking to spur the adoption of its online software and advertising system through its own partnerships.
The wireless business is still largely about phones. But devices such as tablet computers, netbooks and e-readers are a fast-growing, if tiny, part of carriers’ operations.
Consumers are increasingly interested in wireless devices that can surf the Internet or run software applications, and carriers are trying to tap that interest to offset falling revenue from phone calls.
Mr. McAdam acknowledged that Verizon has some catching up to do in the field. AT&T is the carrier for Amazon.com Inc.’s popular Kindle and the new iPad.
“They were able to get out of the box faster,” Mr. McAdam said. Verizon has been handicapped by its CDMA network technology, less common than AT&T’s GSM, but the executive said his company will have devices ready to show early next year once its new network is in place.
That new network promises much higher speeds for transferring video, for example. Verizon says it will be running in 25 to 30 cities by the end of the year.
The new network will likely bring a shift from current unlimited-use pricing plans.
“The old model of one price plan per device is going to fall away,” Mr. McAdam said, adding that he expects carriers to take an approach that targets a “bucket of megabytes.”
With multiple devices, customers are likely to end up paying more for connecting their gadgets to the next-generation network than they do today, he said. “It’s not out of the question,” he said.
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