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4/2/2009
04:40 PM
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Verizon: Too Many Mobile Operating Systems

CEO McAdam's remarks triggered speculation among CTIA Wireless show attendees about which operating systems would survive.

How many mobile phone operating systems are too many?

Verizon Wireless, which currently uses eight or nine, believes the ideal number is three or four.

Next question: Which ones will go?

Speaking at this week's CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas, Lowell McAdam, the company's CEO, complained that having too many operating systems causes the company to spend too much in development costs, and Verizon Wireless would like to see the number of operating systems whittled down.

"We probably have, literally, eight or nine different operating systems," he said. "What we hope over the next few years is to land on about three to four."

McAdam's comments triggered immediate speculation about Verizon's surviving operating systems. Microsoft's Windows Mobile obviously will make the cut, because Microsoft has the search contract for Verizon Wireless and because, well, Microsoft is Microsoft and it dominates computing generally. The LiMo open source OS is also a likely survivor, because Verizon Wireless has in the past blessed it with special status.

Google's Android is closing fast and Research In Motion has a commanding position in enterprise mobile messaging. Symbian is strong, and it's certain to grow as it opens up its offerings to more developers. Apple's iPhone also is strong, but it's used exclusively in the United States by AT&T. And Palm has recently beefed up its offerings with new handsets.

"We will not be in a position where we shun one operating system in favor over another operating system," McAdam said, signaling the marketplace will likely work out the dilemma. "We want to see what works well over time."

Verizon Wireless, which is 55% owned by Verizon Communications and 45% by Vodafone Group, has the most wireless subscribers in the United States and regularly wins consumer acceptance polls. It's in the throes of moving to LTE infrastructure and is in a race with WiMax providers Clearwire and Sprint to deploy mobile broadband across the United States.


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