Google phone: No Verizon deal yet

Verizon Wireless doesn't intend to announce a deal to carry a Google-powered cellphone any time soon, according to a source familiar with Verizon's plans, reports Fortune's Stephanie Mehta.

By Stephanie N. Mehta, Fortune senior writer

(Fortune) -- The nation's No. 2 wireless operator, Verizon Wireless, doesn't intend to announce a deal to carry a Google-powered cell phone any time soon, according to a source familiar with the wireless company's plans.

Google (Charts, Fortune 500), the Internet search company, reportedly is seeking relationships with wireless phone makers and operators to produce a suite of hardware and software for mobile phones. The aim is to make the wireless Web more open and easy to use, the way the wired Web is today.


The Wall Street Journal Online late Tuesday said Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon (Charts, Fortune 500) and Vodafone (Charts), is in "advanced talks" to sell a Google-ized mobile device. But a person close to Verizon says no deal with Google is imminent. Verizon isn't commenting.

While Google has yet to officially acknowledge the existence of a so-called "G-Phone," many industry executives believe the Internet company is poised to make a major push into mobile devices in the coming weeks.

"I would assume where there's smoke, there's fire," says Robert Laikin, the normally garrulous CEO of wireless distribution company Brightpoint Inc. Laikin declined to comment on whether his company, which essentially preps and delivers wireless devices for carriers and retailers, is working with Google. But he says: "I can tell you, Google's rumored entry into the wireless space is a positive for the industry."

Laikin says Google could accelerate the deployment of interesting applications - using your wireless phone as a wallet, say - that already exist but aren't widely available in the U.S. today because carriers such as Verizon tend to tightly control the services that run on their networks. Google's model, as reported by the Wall Street Journal and others, would enable third-party software developers to write applications that would run on the Google mobile platform.

Google reportedly also is talking with mobile operators Sprint (Charts, Fortune 500) and T-Mobile, a unit of Germany's Deutsche Telekom (Charts). T-Mobile declined to comment, and a Sprint representative didn't immediately return a phone call.

While Apple struck an exclusive deal with AT&T (Charts, Fortune 500) to carry its iPhone in the U.S., Google is more likely to seek relationships with all the carriers in order to maximize the potential reach of its mobile platform. At the end of the day, Google's goal seems to be to extend its search, advertising and applications models from the wired world into the wireless one - and those core businesses depend on aggregating lots of users.

Still, Verizon, which has a reputation for being the most controlling of the U.S. carriers, is unlikely to be the first operator to sign on with Google. Top of page