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Verizon Talks the Openness Talk, Doesn't Walk the Openness Walk

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verizonlogoVerizon (s vz) Wireless, nearly two years after saying it would offer its network to “any apps, any device,” is moving toward openness with all the haste of a 12-year-old headed to the dentist. The company said today it’s certified fewer than five dozen devices for its 3G network, most of which are “specialized M2M units” — in other words, not the kind of thing you’re going to pick up at Best Buy (s bby). The carrier also announced the imminent launch of Vcast Apps, an initiative designed to allow developers to distribute their wares to Verizon’s customers.

While the talk of openness makes for good public relations, of course, and helps satisfy the requirements set forth by the FCC when Verizon won a chunk of 700 MHz spectrum at auction last year. But today’s press release makes Verizon’s priorities clear: It’s the network, stupid.

“The winners in the 4G world will be those companies that first, focus on their core competencies, and second, facilitate and embrace collaboration and partnering,” Verizon Wireless SVP said during his keynote speech at the 2009 PCIA Wireless Infrastructure Show in Nasvhille, Tenn. “We can build all the bells and whistles and make lots of bold claims, but none of it will matter if the network — and all of the underlying infrastructure that supports the network — isn’t fundamentally reliable.”

That’s true, of course. But just as Verizon should be praised for its rock-solid network, criticism that it refuses to play nice with others in the space is also valid. The carrier has decided not to install (GigaOM Pro, subscription required) RIM’s (s rimm) BlackBerry App World or Microsoft’s (s msft) Windows Mobile Marketplace on its phones, opting instead to deploy it own app store and forcing consumers to download the platform. And Verizon is only now beginning to embrace Wi-Fi after watching competing carriers leverage the technology to ease network congestion and fuel uptake.

Verizon is right to crow about its network, particularly when AT&T (s t) has had such difficulty delivering data to iPhone users. But when it comes to opening its network, I’d like to hear a little less talk and see more action from the nation’s largest mobile carrier.

14 Responses to “Verizon Talks the Openness Talk, Doesn't Walk the Openness Walk”

  1. Verizon is looking for a different model than transporting the web to a third party browser.

    They are looking for the services they can offer, to the third party and the browser.

    On the web these strategies exist, (e.g. Akami). At the end of the day Verizon may find something that makes the transport better. Right now they are trying to enable location, billing and their concept of security. I recognize that Parlay-X is not a strategy for web development for the majority of developers, but it’s an effort to provide the service neutrally.

    Given the fact that comparison in these posts have been to the app stores of the device manufacturers’ on not the carrier, some observation fo the efforts to provide a different platform should be appreciated.

  2. Sorry, I am late to this discussion, but I think this debate is way of track. Look at the iPhone and think about Craig Moffet’s observations that Apple, not ATT is the dominating force. This is also proven in the documents shared by Apple, Google and ATT regarding GoogleVoice.

    Verizon is always about selling the value of their network, which most people think is pretty good. So they are looking for a path that enables apps without having the compliants about network degradation that ATT is suffering.

    As someone who fought with my opps guys because they were doing truck rolls to condition lines for third party modems, I ask that some balance be put in play here. Particularly if you follow Chairman Genachowski’s new Net Neutrality Freedoms. Verizon is right to try to navigate for a network API than makes sense.

  3. I have been saying for years that Verizon will go kicking and screaming into the dumb pipe world and making their service more and more restrictive for users as they do.
    The LTE for data only as a hybrid handset strategy makes so much sense.
    I, for one, will not use VZW as my voice provider – their policies and actions prove that they love the (custom) blade and (proprietary) razor world and don’t want to leave.
    Damn their world class network! I wish it weren’t true.

  4. Gary Finn

    “The carrier has decided not to install (GigaOM Pro, subscription required) RIM’s BlackBerry App World…”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I have a Blackberry Pearl on Verizon and it definitely has Blackberry App World on it. I think it came with a firmware upgrade or something? Not sure, but it is definitely there.

    • Stacey Higginbotham

      Verizon subscribers (with BlackBerries) have App World now, but Verizon has said future phones will come pre-loaded with its own app store. However, subscribers ARE free to download any other app stores themselves.

    • Colin Gibbs

      Stacey’s right, and the fact that VZW’s app store will be embedded instead of the platform stores shouldn’t be minimized. I have plenty of BlackBerry-toting friends who aren’t even aware that App World exists.

  5. i smell something really funky everything i read that verizon plans on deploying LTE for data only and not voice. what that means is that they are explicitly preventing compatibility with the future GSM phones. they seem to be planning a hybrid phone strategy were they will sell highly customized phones that use CDMA for voice and than the data only aspect of LTE at 700 mhz. so there will still be no compatibility with GSM phones from other networks.

    • Anonymous

      While I also don’t like VZW, my opinion is that they are going with data only on LTE (at least initially) because the standards for Voice and SMS have not yet been finalized. I would also argue that it is not in VZW’s interest to use entirely different device standards as it would increase the device prices and limit the choice. Probably VZW chose LTE standard than the alternate CDMA technology for the same reasons.

      • my suspicion has been that verizon choose LTE on 700 mhz in order to be consistent with and eventually merge network infrastructure with AT&T who is also deploying LTE in the same spectrum range.

  6. “Open” and “Verizon” are two words that don’t go in the same sentence. I’m still waiting for a GPS unlock on my VZW Blackberry 8830… I’m not holding my breath (or paying them another $10 per month for their crappy map program). Bastards.

  7. “…forcing consumers to download the platform.”

    Damn, those are some pretty harsh requirements. Wowes the consumer, who is incidentally, trying to download other applications in the first place…