Verizon Wireless’ recent invitation to Java developers to attend a conference on July 28, which is aimed at fostering new application development on Verizon’s network, is not indicative of the carrier’s preference or future plans, a source at the carrier says.
“It’s Java AND Brew, not one or the other,” said Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffery Nelson, referring to Qualcomm’s BREW platform, which runs on virtually all of Verizon’s feature phones.
In the past (in fact, dating back to 2002), Verizon has been backing BREW. So why solicit the help of Java developers now, and in such a public manner?
Nelson said that Java on Verizon starts with smartphones, specifically BlackBerry smartphones, which already run Java. “We’ll begin by leveraging that capability and move from there,” he said.
As for Verizon’s feature phones, they’ll stick with BREW. “We’ll maintain BREW on feature phones as long as the BREW ecosystem is robust and meets our needs,” Nelson said.
To be fair, Lowell McAdam, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, could not have made the same kind of public appeal to the BREW development community this year. Qualcomm’s annual developer conference was cancelled this year.
Speaking from the JavaOne 2009 conference in San Francisco, McAdam was up front about Verizon’s history of guarding its network. “We’ve been relatively closed as a wireless carrier. I think it was because we wanted to be overly protective of our brand.”
McAdam said that policy has changed since network speeds and capacities have increased, making Verizon more able to deal with media-rich devices and applications in a manner that doesn’t affect the quality of the network.
Verizon’s new push for application development is in line with the carrier’s highly publicized Open Development Initiative (ODI) spearheaded by Tony Lewis, Verizon’s vice president of open development. That program is aimed at making it easier for developers to have devices certified to run on Verizon’s network. Combined, the two initiatives appear to be sincere moves by the carrier to allow open access to its network.