Mobile Roundup: The Verizon Has Bad Smartphones Edition

It was a relatively light week in the mobile industry, although Samsung rolled out a new <a href="">Omnia phone</a>, Apple and Google are playing "<a href="">liar</a>, <a href="">liar</a>" about Google Voice for the iPhone, and Pal

Marin Perez, Contributor

September 18, 2009

5 Min Read

It was a relatively light week in the mobile industry, although Samsung rolled out a new Omnia phone, Apple and Google are playing "liar, liar" about Google Voice for the iPhone, and Palm finally dumped Windows Mobile. In this week's roundup, I'll pontificate on why Verizon's smartphone lineup is lacking, as well as touch upon a few more interesting stories.Why Do Verizon's Smartphones Suck?

If you haven't read Wired's excellent article on the nation's biggest carrier's lack of appealing smartphones, I'd advise you to check it out. Basically, they wonder why Verizon doesn't seem to be able to snag a really cool smartphone despite its status as top dog in the United States. I mean, AT&T has the iPhone, T-Mobile's going Android crazy, and even Sprint is nabbing cool handsets like the Pre and HTC Hero, but Verizon continues to lag behind.

"Keep in mind that for Verizon Wireless, it isn't so much about the devices as it is about the delivery," Verizon spokesperson Brenda Raney told Wired author Priya Ganapati. "We have the nation's largest 3G network so when we offer devices on our network, customers can be assured that they will deliver as promised."

So they've prioritized the network over the shiny handset, and no one can really blame them for that. But I know for a fact that there are a lot of Verizon smartphone users who have iPhone envy, and would overlook the carrier's tendency to cripple devices and overcharge if they could use the latest and greatest handsets. There are also whispers that they rushed Research In Motion to get the BlackBerry Storm out last year in time for the Black Friday shopping season, which means it launched with software that wasn't ready for primetime.

With that said, Big Red is quietly changing its ways and appears to have a lineup of really cool devices around the corner. It recently introduced its version of the HTC Touch Pro 2, and it will be heavily subsidizing the handset to make it about $150 cheaper than the versions on T-Mobile or Sprint Nextel. The BlackBerry Storm 2 will also hit before the end of the year, and sneak previews suggest it will offer a much-better experience than the first version.

I'm also very excited about the potential of Android devices on Verizon because I'm just a few months away from being a cell phone free agent, and a high-end Droid device could make me stick around. It's widely expected that Motorola will introduce an Android-powered Sholes before the end of the year, and it's rumored to have some serious horsepower. The Boy Genius is also reporting that HTC is polishing a device known as the Predator for Verizon, and it will also be powered by the Google-backed operating system. Combine the Storm 2 with the Android goodness, as well as unexpected devices, and Verizon's lineup is shaping up quite nicely.

T-Mobile Going HSPA+

At the 4G World conference Friday, T-Mobile said it would be deploying HSPA+ services nationwide by 2010, and the extra-fast mobile broadband is currently available in Philadelphia, according to FierceWireless. This technology is essentially steroids for 3G networks, as it bumps the maximum theoretical downlink speed to 21 Mbps. What's interesting is that T-Mobile will likely be the only U.S. carrier to use HSPA+, as Verizon's going to Long-Term Evolution, Sprint's betting on WiMax, and AT&T will cap out at HSPA 7.2 before transitioning to LTE.

Putting the alphabet soup aside, this means T-Mobile users will be getting faster mobile data services soon, and that's always a good thing. The company severely lags behind the competition with 3G, as it only really began deploying its AWS 3G last year. But they appear poised to make up for lost time, and the company also said it will eventually have 4G networks based on LTE. "We will be an LTE house at some point in time, but it depends on how this path develops," said Neville Ray, senior VP of the carriers engineering and operations.

Pre Getting Paid Apps Sept. 24

All Things D is reporting that Palm's App Store competitor will finally be getting paid apps Sept. 24, and this may boost developer interest in the webOS platform. Palm has been taking their sweet time building out their ecosystem for the App Catalog, and even though the SDK was released in July there hasn't been a flood of new programs. This should attract content creators because it's still very difficult for an app developer to make money based solely on advertising. Like Apple, Palm will be keeping 30% of the revenue from sold apps, and because Palm has no iTunes equivalent, programs will have to be bought with a credit card.

Wrapping It Up

Hard to believe, but the holiday shopping season is almost here, and this means we should see an avalanche of mobile news. I've had a few discussions with interesting smaller companies about potentially-disruptive technologies, and I'll be able to speak more about these in the next few weeks. Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or tweet me @marinperez about anything related to the mobile world. I'll leave you with this interesting demo video of LG's latest Chocolate phone:

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