Verizon Wireless is certainly not going to stand back and let Google's Android operating system dominate the mobile OS scene. The wireless operator today made the rumors official by announcing that it was becoming a core member of the LiMo Foundation and will be taking a seat on the LiMo Foundation's board. In addition, Verizon says that Linux will be its preferred operating system moving forward.
During a press conference this morning, Kyle Malady, vice president of network for Verizon, said that the company will devote resources to the LiMo Foundation in the form of personnel and money. In addition, he said that the primary appeal of LiMo was that it was a "union grounded in openness that will facilitate the creation of new applications and services for consumers and businesses." Of course, it also helps that LiMo actually has commercially available devices on the market.
But the carrier stopped short of saying that its backing of LiMo means that it won't support Android. Although LiMo and Linux will be the preferred operating system for Verizon, the carrier says that it will still support Android devices if they are "interesting to Verizon customers." In addition, the company will continue to have devices with other operating systems such as RIM's Blackberry.
In an interesting aside, Malady said that the first LiMo devices would be feature phones and simple devices rather than smart phones. "We will start slow and as we get smarter will graduate up," he said.
Verizon's backing of LiMo certainly gives the consortium a huge advantage in the North American market. LiMo, which was started in January 2007, now has more than 40 members including Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, Vodafone. Besides its addition of Verizon today, it also added Korean heavyweight SK Telecom to its membership roster. While some have positioned LiMo as a direct competitor to Android, LiMo Executive Director Morgan Gillis told FierceWireless back in November that the two are actually complementary because LiMo is a middleware and Google is more focused on the user experience.
Nevertheless today's announcement by Verizon appears to be a blow to the Android camp. Obviously by securing a seat on the LiMo board, Verizon plans to play a dominant role in LiMo. -Sue