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Look Out, AT&T & Apple: Verizon Says It’s Building a Tablet With Google

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Verizon Wireless (s VZ) is working with Google (s goog) on a tablet, Lowell McAdam, CEO of the nation’s largest carrier, has told the Wall Street Journal. Such a device could help Verizon counter the competitive threat posed by AT&T’s (s t) relationship with Apple (s aapl) (GigaOM Pro, sub req’d). It would also position Verizon to win as the mobile industry attempts to boost subscriber penetration to 500 percent by providing connected devices. From the WSJ story:

Tablets are part of the “next big wave of opportunities,” Mr. McAdam said in an interview. He said the work on a tablet 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.

“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,” he said.

A Verizon spokesman declined to talk about the timing of any device, but the relationship between Verizon and Google could help both out in their battles with AT&T and Apple, respectively (GigaOM Pro sub req’d). Verizon could throw its considerable marketing weight behind a well thought-out Android tablet if Google tweaks the OS so the tablet experience isn’t a red-headed step-child version of the phone platform with less robust features.

16 Responses to “Look Out, AT&T & Apple: Verizon Says It’s Building a Tablet With Google”

  1. Whatever the reasons may be, APPLE cannot have a cakewalk anymore. They ran away with the iPod. The design,quality and scale of manufacturing are great with iPod, there is no viable competition even now. But things are changing quickly with iPhone onwards. Google is almost matching Apple on everything. Besides there are other platforms like WebOS which is much better than Apple’s iPhone OS and Windows Mobile7 are competing hard. I would love to see it with Flash. It will be a success regardless. Why ? Android is slowly having fans , the loyalty is building. Most importantly folks can live without buying Apple products.

  2. So far, it’s hard for me to believe that the 3G (or 4G) connection will drive any tablet buying decision. The most important part is and will be for the immediate future I believe, the user interface, the available apps, and how the package as a whole works together. The connectivity is important but as the tremendous sales of the iPad Wi-Fi version have shown that does not mean it has to be 3G/4G. (Though I admit it would be important for some).

    So yes, Google announcing that it will do tablets is good news. I’ll look forward to how they further innovate the android platform. But Verizon saying that it will do tablets, just smells of a catch up for now and doesn’t really excite me.

  3. How the devil can you “boost subscriber penetration to 500 percent”? Isn’t the most you can get 100%? Did you mean BY 500%? I’m not sure whose English is bad, but since you can’t have 500% penetration, I will just assume the whole statement is nonsense.

    • It’s actually quite common in the more “advanced” wireless countries of the world to boast penetration rates of 150% and more. And it’s also due to how “subscribers” are measured. The reason is due to multiple device subscriptions per user. i.e. If everyone had an iPhone and an iPad, you’d have 200%. In Asia, many folks already carry 2 phones – so again 200% is possible. An Ericsson exec recently predicted 7 devices per person – leading to 700% maximum. :-)

  4. There’s so much to a tablets success beyond what carrier’s network it’s tied to. At least Apple was smart enough to offer versions of the iPad without 3G capability and AT&T to offer what is essentially a pay-as-you-go system for those iPads that do have 3G.

    We’ll just have to wait and see what the feature set of a Google might be. One thing is for certain: if it’s use is tied to an always present Verizon connection or requires a Verizon subscriber contract, it will fail.

  5. Sounds very contrived – both the story and the (lack of) strategy. I guess nobody considered that a big old iPod Touch would be so well received.

    The old competition, like politics, makes strange bed fellows cliche comes to mind. Verizon wants to get close and closer to Google is strange.

    For Verizon, it’s strange because they want to help Google – a company that would do all in its power to value strip Verizon’s profit making businesses. Strange because Google probably forced up the price of wireless spectrum that Verizon bought a couple of years ago. Strange because they’re on opposite sides of the Net Neutrality issues. Strange because they may be in some degree of competition on value added services before you turn around (well, before Verizon gets the iPhone).

  6. Two comments: #1 why do people mouth off what they plan to do before they have anything to show? #2 how does that make other device vendors feel? HP, HTC, Acer, …. They need to compete with a Verizon designed device?

    Lastly, does Verizon really want Apple devices on its network? Is this a way to tell your potential vendor that “hey I want to compete with you”?

  7. g00ber

    Big Red is pushing it in Steve’s face.

    One thing you never ever want to do these days:


    You have been forewarned.

    When Steve get Angry even The Hulk pales in comparison.

  8. “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,” he said.”

    Sounds like they’ve given this a lot of thought. Not.