If we're to believe the hype (and it's awfully convincing), Motorola's upcoming Droid smartphone could be the first handset to truly challenge Apple's iPhone. We'll find out soon enough, as Verizon today confirmed Droid will arrive next Friday, November 6, for $199 with a 2-year contract and $100 mail-in-rebate.
"This is an exciting announcement for Verizon Wireless, as the Droid by Motorola is the first device that we are bringing to market under our ground-breaking strategic partnership with Google," said John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless. "Droid by Motorola gives customers a lifestyle device with access to more than 12,000 applications that will help them stay in touch, up to date and entertained, using the best 3G network in the country."
Built around the all new Android 2.0 (Eclair) platform, the slim (0.5 inches thick) smartphone has a lot going for it, including a 3.7-inch, 854x480 capacitive touchscreen, a built-in 5MP camera, DVD-quality video recording, a TI OMAP 3430 processor based on ARM's Cortex-A8 architecture and capable of racing along at up to 600MHz, Microsoft Exchange support, HTML5 support, and a bunch more, all of which will be heavily marketed.
"The marketing campaign that will support the launch of the Droid will be the largest in our history. We're going to put significant energy behind this product," said John Stratton, Verizon's chief marketing officer.
If Droid lives up the hype, the marketing may take care of itself.
Make no mistake - just because Verizon's new Droid handset takes aim at competing against Apple's iPhone, Verizon would rather have the two smartphones fighting the mobile market side by side, not face to face.
"We obviously would be interested at any point in the future that they would be interested in having us as a partner," said Ivan Seidenbert, Verizon's chief executive. "This is a decision that is exclusively in Apple's court."
Obviously nailing down an iPhone contract would be a huge win for Verizon, but even more so when you consider the upcoming Motorola Droid is built on Google's Android platform. And in Verizon's favor, the wireless telco added 1.2 million wireless subscribers during the quarter, which is less than the 2 million AT&T added, but more than analysts were expecting.
Whether or not Apple opens up to Verizon remains to be seen. In the meantime, Verizon has gone on the offensive with an ad campaign targeting AT&T's comparatively sparse network coverage.
Verizon is coming out swinging as the FCC is poised to officially adopt new Network Neutrality regulations. The FCC is expected to approve FCC Chair Julius Genachowski’s new policies on October 22nd. The cell carriers contend that the realities of managing their networks are not compatible with the new rules. They have even gone so far as to claim that their mobile networks could be “crippled”.
Verizon CEO, Ivan Seidenberg, didn’t mince words, saying of the proposal, “[It’s] a mistake, pure and simple - an analog idea in a digital universe." He claimed that the regulations may keep Verizon from prioritizing packets for important applications, like emergency communications for first-responders.
Seidenberg indicated that Net Neutrality regulations could damage, or halt, our “progress toward a connected world.” Even as the Verizon chief was making these claims, the FCC received a letter signed by 30 prominent investors in technology businesses that support the proposed regulations. Is Seidenberg overstating his case, or trying desperately to save us all from ourselves?
In a separate joint statement with Google, Verizon clarified that they accept Net Neutrality principals for wireline broadband, just not for their wireless networks. "Verizon and Google might seem unlikely bedfellows in the current debate around network neutrality, or an open Internet. And while it's true we do disagree quite strongly about certain aspects of government policy in this area -- such as whether mobile networks should even be part of the discussion -- there are many issues on which we agree," the companies wrote.
The iPhone exclusivity contract with AT&T ends this year and hot on the heels of AT&T’s poor 3G performance reports, and network upgrade promises, Verizon launches a zinger ad campaign directly targeting the shortcomings of their rival.
Debuting on Monday Night Football, Verizon launched its slick response to Apple’s “There’s an app for that” commercials. The new television ad campaign, “There’s a Map for that,” cleverly smacks AT&T’s coverage area in the face as the voiceover talks about streaming video performance and spotty coverage areas (yes they’re talking about you, AT&T).
Verizon will undoubtedly seek a contract with Apple should its exclusivity end with AT&T. As it is, they are locking up a partnership with Google to bring Android phones to their product offerings as well.
Verizon’s Chief Technology Officer, Dick Lynch, had some tough words for you heavy downloaders out there. He claimed that in the future, all internet access will be sold based on the amount of data a customer wants to consume. Lynch claims that so-called metered broadband is the only way forward. “We’re going to have to consider pricing structures that allow us to sell packages of bytes, and at the end of the day the concept of a flat-rate infinitely expandable service is unachievable,” said Lynch.
The Verizon CTO further explained that the model would likely be similar to the current model of wireless carriers, and not a specific price per gigabyte used. Verizon has previously decided against instituting caps on their FiOS service, but this could be an indication that all the uncapped internet goodness is about to end.
His statements were made as part of a larger discussion of Network Neutrality. Lynch specifically talked about the rise of high bandwidth applications and services. He said that some services “will not be happy on the public Internet.” Lynch speculated some other method of delivery for these services may be needed.
We’re used to hearing the outcry when a broadband provider tries to institute caps. Does the Internet-using population have the stomach for metered access? Let us know in the comments.
You won't get far by shopping for a netbook with just $150 in hand, even if you're willing to browse your favorite online vendor's refurbished section. But for those of you willing to sign up to a 2-year subscription plan through Verizon, $150 suddenly becomes enough to snag a Gateway LT2016u netbook (after $100 mail-in-rebate).
Minus the monthly fee, that's about as cheap as you're going to find a 10.1-inch netbook in the foreseeable future. Other specs include an Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz) processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive spinning at 5400RPM, built-in webcam and mic, multi-card reader, 3G support, and Windows XP.
Not a bad deal considering the LT2016u retails for $500, but as Engadget rightly points out, shouldn't these subsidized netbooks be free already?
The deployment of new wireless standards is usually painfully slow. If Verizon is to be believed however, the rollout of the carrier’s LTE network could be lightning-fast by comparison. Verizon CTO Tony Melone said recently that the company had no intention of “teasing” customers with tiny LTE coverage areas, and promised the rollout “will be as close to all-at-once as possible.”
LTE is a 4G standard that will replace Verizon’s current CDMA/EV-DO network. LTE will be able to use a significant part of the existing infrastructure, meaning faster deployment. Verizon hasn’t given any specific dates, but says that there will be 25 to 30 markets covered with LTE in 2010 alone. They expect their entire network to be switched over to LTE within two to three years.
Malone indicated that Verizon had already certified 55 devices for use on their LTE network, but many are not consumer level. When complete, the new network will support various types of smartphones, and other devices that require data connections, like e-readers.
The question isn't 'why would Best Buy and Verizon look to get into the e-book business,' but 'why wouldn't they?' After all, everyone else is diving in, and while it's true that you shouldn't follow your friends (or competition) off a bridge, the e-book business could hardly be considered suicidal.
For Verizon's part, The New York Times reports it plans to sell digital books and newspapers wirelessly over its 3G network for owners of iRex Technologies' upcoming $399 touchscreen e-reader. Customers will be able to purchase the iRex DR800SG at a few hundred Best Buy stores, while the electronics chain also plans to carry Sony's more affordable Reader.
With Best Buy, Verizon, and several others jumping on the e-book bandwagon, digital readers are poised to become the next biggest thing since the netbook, which took the market by storm in similar fashion.
"The e-reader has high awareness, but most people have still not seen or touched or played with them," said Chris Homeister, senior vice president for entertainment at Best Buy. "We feel at that this is a technology that is beginning to emerge and that we can bring a unique experience to the marketplace."
Casting somewhat of a wet blanket over the e-book bonanza, a recent report from Forrester Research suggests that digital readers need to approach the $100 mark before most consumers will dive in.
The two largest wireless providers in the US, Verizon and AT&T, are not cool with the FCC’s new push for Network Neutrality. On Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech outlining plans to create a set of binding Net Neutrality rules that would extend to the wireless industry. AT&T claimed regulation was not needed saying, "AT&T has long supported the principle of an open Internet and has conducted its business accordingly."
The companies also argue that wireless service is a different animal, and Net Neutrality practices may not be feasible. "On a wireline broadband network, you know where your customer is," said Verizon VP of Regulatory Affairs. "So you can build capacity to handle the peak demands. But on a wireless network, you have a crowd converge on a site that suddenly has 10 times or 100 times the users competing for the same resources."
AT&T and Verizon both pointed out that they were behind the FCC initiative for wired broadband, just not for their wireless networks. Verizon also called attention to their policy to allow any compatible, certified device to use its 3G network. Consumer advocates say that there are multiple non-neutral practices taking place on wireless broadband networks to be dealt with. VoIP applications, like Skype, often find themselves barred from operating on cellular 3G networks. With the FCC already investigating competition in the wireless industry, this may lead to still more hearings. Should Net Neutrality extend to cellular data networks? Let us know in the comments.
Microsoft is approaching the October 6 launch of its Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system with renewed vigor, even though it is only the first, more humble course of a two-course meal, of which Windows Mobile 7 is the concluding course. With Windows Mobile 6.5, it hopes to change the current perception of WinMo phones and replace it with a nattier, bonnier picture.