Titanic shift or public posturing, Verizon's announcement today that they intend to let "Any Apps, Any Device" on their wireless network by 2008 will have major repercussions across the industry. In short, it points to a near future where wireless networks are simple data service providers, not wardens handing out state-approved devices with mandatory sentences.
To me, the baked-in EV-DO data connection was the most interesting feature of the Amazon Kindle ebook reader, and it appears that it will be possible for other devices to easily get the same class of connection without finagling multi-million deals. If this goes down the way it should, Verizon will let everyone become their own MVNO.
Of course Verizon will probably fuck us sideways with the limitations and fees, but for now let's bask in the glow coming from Basking Ridge:
Verizon Wireless today announced that it will provide customers the option to use, on its nationwide wireless network, wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the company. Verizon Wireless plans to have this new choice available to customers throughout the country by the end of 2008.
In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.
Some are postulating that this is a reaction to the Google-led Open Handset Alliance, but I think it's part of a greater strategy by Verizon to position themselves as a pure data utility (see also: FIOS). Perhaps I'm giving them too much credit.
Press Release [VZW.com]