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Verizon Embraces Google's Android 148

Posted by Zonk
from the hard-to-hug-a-robot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "BusinessWeek has up an article on Verizon's decision to fully support Android. After passing on the iPhone, the company says they're going to open their network to more devices, move their network to GSM-based radio technology (LTE), and now support Android. 'In an open-access model, though, Verizon Wireless won't offer the same level of customer service as it does for the roughly 50 phone models featured in its handset lineup. Though the company will insist on testing all phones developed to run on its network in the open-access program, Verizon plans only to ensure the wireless connection is working for customers who buy those devices.'"
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Verizon Embraces Google's Android

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  • wary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:50PM (#21574133) Homepage Journal
    I feel like when it comes to open networks, Verizon has always been that evil master that enslaves you and hits you with a rolled up magazine. It makes me wary that it's now trying to give us this treat of promises of open networks...
    Something tells me they're just trying to lure us in so they can get a better swing with their magazine.
  • Google dreams... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:50PM (#21574135)
    ...of robotic sheep.
  • by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:04PM (#21574357)

    Ok, I get it now. I've been trying to figure out why a company that is so closed and so anti-consumer most of the time (I happen to be a current subscriber and hate them, especially after they automatically extended my contract when I got married and wanted to consolidate cell phone plans with my wife, who was also a Verizon customer) would be suddenly opening up their network, not restricting software, etc. After reading these quotes from the article, though, I do get it now.

    When Verizon Wireless was founded in 2000, it ran 27 call centers to provide customer service. The company cut back to as few as 17 centers at one point, but the count is now back to 25, each with about a thousand employees. The company's 2,300 stores, staffed by 20,000 employees, are also costly. While workers in those stores used to spend nearly the entire day signing up new customers, now only a tenth of their time is consumed by new subscribers. Instead, the bulk of their energy goes to helping current subscribers with questions and problems. McAdam & Co. decided the business model was not sustainable. "If we get to 150 million customers, boy, that's a lot of overhead," says McAdam.

    In an open-access model, though, Verizon Wireless won't offer the same level of customer service as it does for the roughly 50 phone models featured in its handset lineup. Though the company will insist on testing all phones developed to run on its network in the open-access program, Verizon plans only to ensure the wireless connection is working for customers who buy those devices. "They have to talk to their handset provider or their application provider if they have particular issues," McAdam says.

    Reading between the lines, you can tell they don't like the fact that they have to support their customers. Things were great when they were just signing up customers right and left and didn't have to do much support, but now that they have to actually support their subscribers they don't like it. So basically, this "opening" is just a way for them to support their customers even less, and dump as much of the support on the handset providers as possible. The company strategy is still about helping the consumer as little as possible and screwing them over as much as possible; it just happens that that is now most easily done with an open network.

  • by irishdaze (839248) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:10PM (#21574433) Homepage
    Afte reading the article, this is what grabs my eye:

    . . . Verizon Wireless won't offer the same level of customer service as it does for the roughly 50 phone models featured in its handset lineup . . . Verizon plans only to ensure the wireless connection is working for customers who buy those devices. "They have to talk to their handset provider or their application provider if they have particular issues," McAdam says.

    So, who's to say if "the wirelss connection is working" - The customer? Verizon? The device itself? Application support? What kind of sense does THAT make? I can't hold a call for 5 blocks in a downtown urban area, but because my 'phone provider says the coverage maps report solid coverage, the problem of course must be my handset -- which of course they can replace with a "newer, better model" for just $199.95.

    Add to that their sudden outbreak of common sense regarding their business model, in that

    . . . the bulk of their energy goes to helping current subscribers with questions and problems. McAdam & Co. decided the business model was not sustainable."

    What a great opportunity for Verizon to reduce their already phenomenally bad customer service and imply that it's not their fault that they must do.

    That might be the most ingenious corporate spin I've ever heard. Seriously.

  • Re:wary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmaDaden (794446) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:16PM (#21574519)
    Speaking as someone who is stuck on the Verizon network I say THANK GOD. My biggest complaint with Verizon is their OS. They have it on every phone and it's an unwieldy piece of crap. They might be a corporate super giant but they seem to be realizing that people don't like being fucked with. At first we just wanted good service, this is now their advertising corner stone. Then we had to teach that when you say unlimited you have to mean it [slashdot.org]. So they might be looking at things like Android and seriously consider it. A better OS for their phones that other people will take care of for them? Sounds like a good deal. I just hope to see something good from them soon because their iPhone want-a-be is the best they have and it still sucks [verizonwireless.com]
  • by kidgenius (704962) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:18PM (#21574547)
    And you know what? I can't really blame them. Handset support should fall to Motorola/Samsung/Apple. If something like a calendar application on your phone is buggy, why should Verizon be trying to deal with it. The handset makers made it, have them fix it. I do realize that Verizon has pushed certain things onto the manufacturers like using their UI, etc. But I would much rather see the original software on a phone. So I guess I can't complain to much. By loosening their restrictions, Verizon will actually be saving money AND making their customers happier. And I, as a Verizon customer am now seriously considering staying with them. I was all amped up to dump them and go with ATT and the iPhone next August, but now I'm thinking of staying on for a bit.
  • by hkgroove (791170) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:21PM (#21574591) Homepage
    While I understand that Verizon wants to drop overhead, in some way it does make sense. They were the ones crippling their phones at the start and their version of firmware / software changes that is usually the cause of bad phones. Now, if they're not updating the phone at all, why not send support for tech issues to the manufacturer?

    I've known many people, including myself, that have had to hard-reset their phones over the last year or two, losing ring tones, games, pictures and contacts. Aside from ring tones and games, the others don't cost money but probably hold great (if not greater value) to the user.
  • by piltdownman84 (853358) <piltdownman84.mac@com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:35PM (#21574819)
    Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't a big chunk of Verizon owned by Vodafone? Vodafone got a temporary injunction issued against T-Mobile in Germany, and now this. Is Vodafone is going to war?
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:50PM (#21575105) Journal

    The company strategy is still about helping the consumer as little as possible and screwing them over as much as possible; it just happens that that is now most easily done with an open network
    Well, I'm a cynic, but isn't that how it's supposed to work? They act to maximize their profits, you act to maximize the value you get for your hard-earned $$.

    You can always go to another provider... competition should cause the value you get to increase.

    The problem isn't Verizon... the problem is the oligarchy of cell phone providers. With too few participants on their side of the market, they do not face enough competitive pressure to make your cell phone experience better. The answer is to either regulate them better, or to open up the market to more competitors (which probably wouldn't work, due to high barriers to entry).
  • by NynexNinja (379583) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:51PM (#21575113)
    They say they are going to switch from CDMA to GSM, but why do they have to alienate all their existing customers by switching protocols? The network should support both CDMA and GSM simultaneously. That should be their goal, to support as many different devices as possible, instead of just particular phones.
  • by kharchenko (303729) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:16PM (#21575573)
    Bull .. they load their own software on the phones, screw up the menus, put up locks, restrictions, etc. They better answer support calls. Of course I would switch to an open platform phone and dump their "support" in a second if there was a choice.
  • Embrace!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by enomar (601942) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:34PM (#21575897)
    I'll believe it when I see it. All they've done so far is make a couple vague statements to BusinessWeek.

    All this talk of Verizon "openness" is just talk. Right in time for all the publicity around the 700MHz auction.

    I have no idea what their strategy is, but I can assure you being more open is not their goal.
  • by jimforcy (1198299) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:43PM (#21576071)
    Opening their network and letting an open source community develop software for them is a positive step for Verizon. Currently they have some of the worst client side software available on their phones. Why not let users develop the software they like and go back to being just a service provider? They won't have to reduce their prices because current Verizon customers (myself included), have already accepted that we will pay an arm and a leg for cell data service. Android won't make Verizon phone plans cheaper, and might even make them more expensive at the start (due to the higher quality hardware needed to run Android). That being said, at least I'll have a real choice on what software I want on my phone, which is more than can be said for the iPhone and the morons over at AT&T, or Cincular, or wait, AT&T.
  • Re:wary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davester666 (731373) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:56PM (#21576277) Journal
    Except they already sell phones with capabilities you want today. Well, the phones could have those capabilities, as the phone manufacturer already developed the hardware [the phone] and the software for those capabilities, but Verizon made them scrap that software AFTER it was developed and QA'ed, and forced them to develop new software without those capabilities you want.

    This is just PR, as they don't want to publicly admit you could already have access to phones TODAY [as Verizon has already certified them for use on their networks] with the features you want [well, more of them, anyway] except Verizon has intentionally crippled them, just by saying, wait a year, and we'll certify new advanced phones with more features [implying no such phones exist today].

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