Are Google's Android and Verizon Wireless' LTE (long-term evolution, its chosen flavor of 4G) network a winning combination? In a Tweet, the carrier compared the mobile OS and its new, speedy network to another favorite duo, while dropping a blatant hint about what can be expected at January's Consumer Electronics Show.
"Jan 6 at #CES: #Android and #LTE - could it be like peanut butter and chocolate? YUM!" it posted to Twitter Dec. 20.
It's rather safe to assume, then, that Verizon will be dropping news of new Android-running 4G phones at the event. Or more precisely, six of them. At the CTIA 2010 event, Verizon President and COO Lowell McAdam said that Verizon planned to unveil half-a-dozen 4G handsets at CES, Tom's Guide reported in October.
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg will be delivering the CES opening keynote address at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 6, making news of the Android 4G devices likely. However, still more likely to be packing bodies inside the Las Vegas Hilton Center that morning is the expectation that Verizon will soon be offering an Apple iPhone - as Seidenberg could hardly hope for more ears, or a more enthusiastic crowd, in front of which to finally make such an announcement.
Analysts and journalists have been confirming an early-2011 launch for a Verizon iPhone for months - if not most of 2010. In late October, Fortune - following earlier reports from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal - wrote that it had "confirmed that a Verizon iPhone will be released in early 2011," citing people familiar with Verizon's iPhone development.
Though Verizon lit up the beginnings of its 4G network Dec. 5, Fortune went on to report that "Verizon ... will sell its own version of the iPhone 4, which will work on Verizon's CDMA-based 3G network."
Having a handful of 4G Android phones as well as an Apple iPhone on its roster could give Verizon quite the winning lineup. During the third quarter, sales of Android phones and iPhones dominated overall smartphone sales, which grew by 96 percent year-over-year, according to research firm Gartner. During the quarter, Apple shipped 13.5 million iOS-running devices, while Android shipped on a whopping 20.5 million smartphones.
"Gartner estimates Android phones accounted for 75 percent to 80 percent of Verizon Wireless's smartphone trade in the third quarter of 2010," the firm shared in a Nov. 10 report. It added, "This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales. Apple's share of the smartphone market surpassed Research In Motion (RIM) in North America, to put it second behind Android, while Android volumes also grew rapidly, making it the No. 2 operating system worldwide [behind Symbian]."
The rub will be in whether Verizon can support so many popular devices - the iPhone has been a huge hit for AT&T, currently the exclusive provider of the device, but the carrier has also notoriously struggled to support the data needs of the devices' owners.
Verizon's Dec. 5 LTE rollout included 38 cities and 60 commercial airports, which Verizon CTO Tony Melone, in a conference call officially announcing the new network, called "just the beginning" of what the carrier has planned.