Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) CEO Lowell McAdam said he expects a third "smartphone ecosystem" to rise within a year in a challenge to the duopoly posed by the successes of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android smartphone platforms.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, McAdam said that Samsung's bada, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone and Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry represent viable contenders right now.
"The carriers are beginning to coalesce around the need for a third ecosystem," he said, adding: "Over the next 12 months I think it will coalesce and you will start to see one emerge as a legitimate third ecosystem."
McAdam also touched on several other hot-button topics, including Verizon Wireless' rural LTE initiative, the carrier's nationwide, prepaid unlimited Unleashed offering and the Department of Justice's lawsuit to block AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA.
The Verizon chief, who became CEO in July, said that the company has 11 rural carriers in its rural LTE program and has around 22 more in the pipeline. Earlier this month, Verizon added Missouri-based Chariton Valley Communications as its eleventh LTE partner. As with all of the deals, Chariton Valley will lease Verizon's 700 MHz spectrum and build a fiber and tower network to deliver LTE services in its area; Verizon will offer nationwide LTE roaming.
McAdam echoed comments Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo made earlier this month regarding Verizon's $50 prepaid unlimited Unleashed product, which was launched in conjunction with Verizon's renewed relationship with RadioShack. McAdam said that RadioShack's prepaid sales will help Verizon in markets where it not traditionally strong. He did say, however, that Verizon will be monitoring the progress of Unleashed carefully. "If it turns out it cannibalizes postpaid, we'll pull back," he said.
On the Justice Department's lawsuit, McAdam declined to offer much insight. However, he said Verizon is looking to see whether conditions placed on AT&T as a result of negotiations between the carrier and the Justice Department would affect Verizon. For now, he said Verizon is staying on the sidelines. "I think it's important to be thoughtful about this," he said.
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