Friday, November 6, 2009

Droid: Sea Change for Verizon?

Jason Lackey

For some Verizon may have been the epitome of the walled garden. They have maintained strict control over their network and the things that happen on it and this control and management has paid off for consumers who are rewarded with wireless service with reliability much like that which old Ma Bell taught us to expect from telcos. Always there, nailed up and ready to go. This has not been the case with other operators. Recently Tmobile had a widespread outage and AT&T has had ongoing issues as well. Verizon? Well, here at InnoPath we were able to use their wireless data services to supply data for AT&T devices at Oracle Open World when the AT&T data network in San Francisco was overwhelmed with traffic, so I guess you could say that the ends have justified the means.

The traditional near military precision and attention to detail caused many to poohpooh the Verizon open network initiative, Big Red has shown that they are in fact serious about this stuff. North American operators have often crippled or locked WiFi, GPS on devices, "gimping" the phone and disappointing the consumer while forcing the use of for pay services sold by the operator, things like Navigation packages and such.

One of the big features of Android's 2.0 release is the enhanced Google Maps application, which includes turn by turn navigation - a huge step forward and a direct competitor to a Verizon offering. While there must have been huge temptation to do otherwise, all the goodness baked into Android 2.0 is present and accounted for in Verizon's Droid. They have given up a little control and a little short term cash, but the subscriber is the one who in the end wins.

Additionally, Eclair also marks the first Android release with native ActiveSync/Exchange support baked in to the Google Experience handset. This is exactly the type of Enteprise support that has enabled the iPhone's back door entrance into the enterprise and is the opposite of the RIM approach where all data goes through RIM servers.

These are certainly interesting times with a lot of change and upheaval, but based on past experience I have no doubts that Big Red will continue to deliver on the promise of wireline telco reliability with the benefits of wireless and open networks.

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