Google and Verizon have just announced a "groundbreaking" agreement to maximize the chances for success of the Android OS in the U.S. smartphone market. Their intended target? Beating Apple and AT&T at their own game.
The "strategic partnership" is designed to "deliver leading-edge mobile applications, services and devices" which combine the best of Verizon's 3G network with the best of the Android experience—including several co-developed devices. In other words, it looks like Verizon's actively working with Google to build android handsets to rival the slew of phones already in production by HTC and several others. These phones will also get "pre-loaded" apps and content from Google, Verizon, and third-party developers—that's probably how the strange Verizon app store we heard about earlier fits into the picture.
Of course, if you substitute Apple for Google, and AT&T for Verizon, you've basically got the same business model behind the iPhone—with the odd crossover of Google Maps and YouTube integration. And while Apple persists with its extended exclusivity agreement with AT&T—despite logical arguments to the contrary and poor network coverage compared to Verizon—this new deal is basically two other big industry figures joining forces to take back some of the market that that young scamp Steve Jobs has stolen from them. Combined with the off-again, on-again relationship with Palm and its Pre, it really suggests Verizon's pissed off that it's missing the iPhone boat.
Part of the partnership's stance is to be "open," contrary to Apple's closed-shop business approach (with AT&T even dictating some app rejections from the App Store). So Verizon has announced it'll definitely be supporting Google Voice. We won't have long to find out how the plans will work out: Verizon will be launching two Android phones inside two weeks.