Verizon Wireless' Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone won't include Google Wallet, the mobile payment application the search engine provider hopes to make the premier mobile payment service on Android smartphones all over the world.
However, the carrier denied media reports that it blocked the application on the first Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone, slated to launch in the United States Dec. 9 for $299.99. VentureBeat and the Wall Street Journal reported the news, which hinged on this key statement, which Google later reiterated to eWEEK:
"Verizon asked us not to include this functionality in the product," Google said in an email, declining to add more color.
Verizon spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson told eWEEK the reports that Verizon is blocking Google Wallet on the Galaxy Nexus are false. Rather, Verizon is engaged in ongoing commercial discussions on the matter, he said.
Why the ongoing negotiations? Nelson said Google Wallet is different from other mobile commerce services.
"Google Wallet does not simply access the operating system and basic hardware of our phones like thousands of other applications," he added. "Instead, in order to work as architected by Google, Google Wallet needs to be integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones."
The "secure element," which is where consumers' credit card information is stored, is an NFC controller chip made by semiconductor specialist NXP.
The Galaxy Nexus has this chip, which Sprint included in its Samsung Nexus S smartphone earlier this year. The Nexus S handset is the only one that currently supports Google Wallet, which lets users pay for goods by tapping the phones against an NFC-enabled sales terminal.
When eWEEK relayed Nelson's statements to Google, a spokesperson did not confirm any ongoing negotiating, but countered that Google Wallet is a secure platform.
Nelson also noted that Verizon is working to provide expanded services that will provide the best security and user experience in the market around mobile commerce, an allusion to the company's joint Isis mobile payment effort with AT&T (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile.
After spending millions of dollars building Isis, slated to roll out in 2012,Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all have a competitive interest in shutting Google Wallet out. Like Google Wallet, Isis banks on NFC technology to conduct payments via smartphones and cash terminals.
As the first Ice Cream Sandwich phone, the Galaxy Nexus should sell well for Verizon, which no doubt counts it along with the Motorola Droid Razr as one of its key holiday sales drivers.
The handset boasts a 4.65-inch, HD 720p (1280x720) Super AMOLED display, is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core chip, and runs on 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks.