Verizon banks on Google in smartphone race

While there were many morsels worth chewing on at Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) WWDC event this week, one conspicuous in its absence was an iPhone for Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). The nation's largest carrier does not appear at all perturbed though; its smartphone relationship with Google continues to grow.

With a Verizon iPhone out for the immediate future, the carrier is banking on its relationship with Google to help strengthen its smartphone presence against rival AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). According to data from comScore, Verizon's share of the U.S. smartphone market grew to 24.1 percent at the end of March, while AT&T's fell nearly four points to 41.9 percent. Still, AT&T continues to lead Verizon in the proportion of its customers who are buying smartphones.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Verizon executives meet with their Apple counterparts once a quarter. Nevertheless, Verizon is counting on Google to be a major partner. According to the Journal, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam, along with CMO John Stratton and Senior Vice President John Harrobin, often meet with Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Google's chief Android architect, Andy Rubin, as well other Google executives. The two teams hash out the latest Android software and try and match it with appropriate handsets.

Verizon has been busy promoting the HTC Droid Incredible, and McAdam recently said that due to component shortages the carrier is having trouble keeping the phone in stock. Verizon is now the largest U.S. seller of Android phones, according to an analysis by Credit Suisse.

And Verizon's support of Android shows no signs of relenting. The carrier reportedly plans to launch two new Motorola (NYSE:MOT) Android smartphones in July, and will heavily promote the products. Verizon spent $100 million promoting the original Motorola Droid. Verizon also is planning to launch an Android tablet later this year to counter Apple's iPad.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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