By Carl Howe
I've claimed previously that Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android phone software were going to transform the mobile phone industry here in the US. Well, today, we got some clear evidence of that effect: Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), the number two wireless vendor in the US, has announced that it will open its network to phones and software not sold by Verizon by the end of 2008.
Now, in any European country, this announcement would be greeted by a yawn. But here, this is big news. Carriers here have traditionally been the gatekeepers for both handsets and software on the US networks, claiming that they required such control to guarantee the quality of service on those networks. Those claims have just been, to borrow a phrase, "rendered inoperative." Verizon saw that with Google bidding on the 700 MHz spectrum next year and offering open source software to power a wide variety of handsets, it was fighting the tide to open networks. And you know what they say: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Kudos to Verizon for going with the flow; unfortunately, we'll have to wait until 2009 to see if its actions match its press releases.
Oh, one more thing: Don't expect Apple's iPhone to end up on Verizon's network in 2009. Apple's exclusive carrier deal with AT&T (NYSE:T) for the iPhone doesn't expire until summer of 2012. But at the same time, that deal doesn't prevent Apple from introducing a Verizon EVDO-powered tablet, either.