Verizon to launch LTE apps center later this year

LAS VEGAS--Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will open an application innovation center so that developers can build apps specifically designed for its newly launched LTE network. 

Verizon Communications President and COO Lowell McAdam Verizon Communications President and COO Lowell McAdam said at the company's keynote address here at the official start of the Consumer Electronics Show that the carrier will open the center in San Francisco later this year, and developers will be able to use customized APIs.

McAdam said Verizon is working with more than 60 product manufacturers and 6,000 application developers on products and services for its LTE network. The apps innovation center will serve as a complement to Verizon's existing LTE Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass.

Verizon launched 39 LTE markets in December, covering 110 million POPs. The carrier currently offers two laptop LTE modems, and charges $50 per month for 5 GB of LTE data and $80 for 10 GB of data. Verizon will launch the Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Droid Bionic, an LTE smartphone, in the second quarter. Verizon also will launch the Motorola Xoom, which runs version 3.0 of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, dubbed Honeycomb. The tablet will be upgraded to LTE in the second quarter. Verizon also is expected to launch other LTE smartphones, including ones from HTC and Samsung.   

During CES the keynote, Michael Cleron, Google's principle software engineer for Android 3.0, demonstrated Honeycomb on the Xoom. He said the goal of the software, which is specifically designed for tablets, is to enrich the Android experience while maintaining what customers enjoy about the platform. Honeycomb tablets will have no buttons, as all navigation controls are visual and can be reconfigured on the screen. Information will become highlighted on the screen when it is being used and then fade into the background when it is not, he said. Cleron also demonstrated the browser, which provides users with a desktop-style experience, including tabbed browsing. 

Verizon made no mention of an iPhone for its network, which some had expected the company might discuss. Media reports indicate the nation's largest carrier is poised it introduce an iPhone for its network sometime early this year.

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