If you follow tech news, you know by now that Google has released the SDk for Android, their open source mobile phone platform. You also may know that there is an Open Handset Alliance that has been formed to support the 30+ tech and mobile companies that are actively developing Android for use with their equipment and services. Verizon is not officially part of the alliance, but has recently stated that they will be using Android. This is no surprise to me and most since the news is following the recent announcement that Verizon is beginning a new layer of service that will allow their customers to use ANY kind of compatible wireless device on their network.
I really like the trend that is beginning. Obviously Android will take some time to develop, so we may see some phones running it well by mid 2008. Verizon’s Open Network will be available by the end of 2008. I think price is going to ultimately decide if this new direction will be successful. I say that because if Verizon opens it’s network to user provided handsets, it will change two things about the service itself.
One – The price of the handset
Two – The price of the service
If I buy a handset from somewhere other than Verizon, it will certainly cost more than the sweet 2 Year agreement price I get on a Verizon provided phone. I would expect the service price to go down in this case because I paid more up front. Verizon may see it another way though. If I buy a handset from another vendor and not them, they are losing money, therefore the “open” service price might be higher than the service price for a Verizon branded phone.
If they jack the prices up, very few people will see the value in the open network and will likely choose chains over freedom simply because it’s cheaper.
As far as Android goes, I have high hopes that it will explode and become a widely used system. Since Palm has been sitting on it’s hands FOREVER, maybe Android can breathe some new life into my tired old Palm OS. I say this fully knowing that wireless carriers will probably not give this new OS away to old phone owners, but one can hope. My guess is that they will sell handsets that are running Android. The handsets will be open, which means owners should be able to install and Android developed software on it. There is certainly power in that ability, but I think there could be real power in building some versions of Android that will revamp older phones and make existing customers giggle like school girls. Even though I am not a big fan of my current provider, Sprint, I would stick with them for longer if they made my Treo700P suck less. I am certain that my Treo COULD run on Android, I just hope Sprint decides that it SHOULD.
So rock on Verizon, jump on that “Open Source, Open Network” bandwagon and try not to mess it up! That goes for all you carriers, keep in mind the greater good, your customers. Google is throwing you a huge bone and I worry you might try to keep it for yourself.