Verizon Yawns

Verizon is opening its network to non-carrier-controlled devices. But at the same time, it’s shrugging off the implications of the move:

“The U.S. market has been conditioned to have the carrier control the wireless network end to end,” Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless’ CEO and president, said in an interview. “We’ll have to see how willing people are to give up the subsidy and pay $200 or $300 for a device. We think it will take a long time before the old model dies.”

Analysts agree that Verizon’s new initiative has big long-term implications, but in the short term will have little impact on the market.

“When talking about the future of wireless this is a big deal,” said Avi Greengart, research director for mobile devices at Current Analysis. “It enables connected devices that futurists have been talking about forever. All devices will have network connectivity. But in the short term, people will still buy a subsidized phone if they have the choice.”

Now, it’s obviously true that the old subsidized model won’t die. There will still be plenty of users who just want a basic phone at a low price. But it seems pretty clear to me that the success of the iPhone, and to a lesser extent the Blackberry, indicates that there’s a substantial market out there for higher end, expensive devices — provided they actually serve up an innovative, engaging, and genuinely useful user experience.