Verizon's CES Push to Include New Android Tablet

Verizon Wireless has a lot on its plate at this week's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The wireless carrier is expected to show off new smartphones powered by the company's speedy 4G network and a new tablet computer. All of these devices will run on Google's Android mobile operating system, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

But Verizon's big news comes as rumors continue to swirl about a pending deal with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to carry the iPhone, which would break the exclusive hold AT&T (NYSE: T) has on the device in the U.S. Verizon made a bit of a dent in the Apple/AT&T marriage late last year when it scored a deal to carry the Wi-Fi version of the iPad.

"I think the issue of a Verizon iPhone is not one of if, but when," wireless analyst Jack Gold told InternetNews.com. "And from Apple's perspective, the sooner the better because the longer it takes, the more of a foothold Android gets."

Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, said that while Apple's iPhone sales continue to boom, the growing universe of Android devices has proven to be a worthy competitor. "Think about the last couple of years, Apple set the pace in smartphones and was creaming everyone," he said. "Now Android outsells Apple and you have companies like Samsung that just announced it's sold ten million Galaxy S smartphones running Android. That's impressive."

The Galaxy S made its debut last July.

While Verizon's 4G announcement will be big news at CES, a key detail will be what the company says about availability. "Announcing is one thing, shipping in volume is something else," notes Gold.

The new 4G devices themselves aren't expected out until later this year when Verizon's 4G service is slated to be more broadly available in the U.S. Sprint Nextel is the early leader in providing 4G coverage in the U.S. The higher 4G speed promises to greatly improve applications like mobile videoconferencing and video in general. The WSJ says 4G customers account for only about 1 percent of the roughly 300 million wireless subscribers in the U.S.

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg is scheduled to give a keynote address at CES Thursday morning. A number of companies are expected to show off new Android-powered tablets designed to compete with Apple's hot-selling iPad, including models from Motorola, Samsung, Toshiba and Vizio.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

TAGS:

Google, Android, iPhone, Apple, Verizon

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