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Verizon Wireless, Google To Jointly Develop, Sell Handsets

Google Inc. and Verizon Wireless said they will work together to produce mobile devices based on the Internet-search giant's Android operating system that will access the telecom heavyweight's network, calling it a groundbreaking agreement.

Verizon Wireless, jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group PLC (VOD, VOD.LN), is the biggest service provider yet to join forces with Google. It is also Verizon Wireless' latest attempt in a campaign to compete against Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) popular iPhone, which AT&T Inc. (T) exclusively carries in the U.S.

Verizon Wireless and Google plan to codevelop several devices based on the Android system that will be preloaded with their own applications - plus others from third parties, a possible contender to Apple's huge iPhone application store. They will market and distribute products and services, with Verizon also contributing its nationwide distribution channels.

They see the deal closing in the next few weeks, with Verizon Wireless planning to unveil some Android-based handsets in that time. The two companies said they will devote "substantial resources" to the venture.

Google and Verizon said "leading handset manufacturers" will supply the devices.

Google has been preparing a new, faster version of the open-source Android mobile operating software that analysts expect to be the system's most significant upgrade to date.

Premarket, Google and Verizon shares were both up about 0.6%, while Vodafone's American depositary shares were down 0.8%.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Added: 10/06/2009