Google’s Android phone OS may have gotten off to a slower start than I’d have expected, but it’s quickly making up for lost time. Today’s news: Google and Verizon Wireless are working together directly to design new Android phones, the first of which will be unveiled in “the next few weeks.” They’ll come with Google Voice.
The proof will be in the pudding phones, but it’s good news for consumers that the nation’s largest wireless carrier will be getting Android phones. It’s good news for Verizon, too–the company’s signature smartphone, the BlackBerry Storm, didn’t turn out to be a particularly formidable iPhone rival, and the Google partnership gives Verizon multiple additional shots at getting phones that are cool enough to grab mindshare and marketshare away from AT&T and Apple. (We still have no idea whether Verizon will get the iPhone anytime soon.)
For all the Android phones released and announced to date, I think we still haven’t seen the platform’s defining handset–the one that’s slick enough to join the iPhone 3GS and Palm Pre among the most sophisticated next-generation smartphones. (We haven’t seen a BlackBerry that fits that description, either–and definitely not a Windows Mobile phone.) Sounds like it won’t be too long until we’ll be able to form opinions about whether one of the first Verizon/Google offerings might be that phone.
Heck, maybe I’m just in an upbeat mood, but this is potentially good news for iPhone owners, too. The more smartphones from other carriers that have Google Voice, the greater the chances that Apple might decide it’s in its competitive interests to stop pondering the Google application and get it for the App Store. Wouldn’t be cool if AT&T ended up putting pressure on Apple to…approve innovative telephony apps like Google Voice?