Google Should Block Galaxy Nexus From Verizon

When you think about it, Verizon Wireless was almost lucky to suffer a 4G LTE outage this week. That’s because it diverted attention away from the controversy surrounding the carrier’s decision to ask Google not to include Google Wallet in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Contrary to various reports, Verizon insisted it was not blocking the mobile payment app on this highly anticipated handset. But Verizon is ostensibly blocking the app by not including it or allowing users to download it.

If consumers can’t get the same pure Android experience on the Galaxy Nexus as they can on the unlocked version, what’s the point of the Nexus brand? This is going to sound harsh, but based on principle alone, Google should refuse to sell this phone to Verizon customers until the provider does an about-face on Google Wallet.

In defending its decision to leave Google Wallet off of its flagship superphone, Verizon claimed that the app is more than just that. It’s more complicated because it involves “a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones.” However, the NFC chip and secure hardware element inside the Galaxy Nexus S on Sprint has been working for months without any major issues. And I don’t imagine this solution is any different. Could it be that Verizon is stalling for another reason?

Isis, a competing mobile payment network backed by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, is on the way but just this week we found out it won’t launch until the end of 2012. That’s a lot of time consumers could be using to try out Google Wallet, which has rolled out to thousands of merchants around the country. Just in and around New York City I’ve noticed Google Wallet checkout terminals at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Duane Reade, and Subway shops.

I really hope Verizon isn’t dragging its feet because of business reasons, because that would be both anti-competitive and anti-consumer. Galaxy Nexus owners should have a choice as to what mobile payment solution they use, just as they should in choosing what music app or movie service to use.

Right after the you-know-what hit the fan earlier this week I tweeted: “It’s not like Verizon can pull Netflix from phones to promote V Cast. Why should Google Wallet be different?” Just one day later, reports surfaced that Verizon and Redbox would be teaming up to launch a Netflix competitor at the end of May 2012. Nothing should or could prevent Verizon from promoting this service on its handsets once this service goes live, but should it be able to ask Google to remove its movie service from the Android Market?

The answer is obviously no, but my point is this: Where does Google draw the line? I can understand if Verizon wants to have more control over its own branded smartphones, but the Nexus line is supposed to be different. It’s Android unadulterated. And Google should take a stand now. You could even argue that Verizon including two of its own apps in My Verizon Mobile and VZ Backup Assistant go too far, though I wouldn’t.

Do I want to see an Android Ice Cream Sandwich phone with LTE speeds on Verizon’s network? Yes, and a lot of other people do too. But if Google doesn’t defend everything the Nexus brand stands for now, carriers will just keep chipping away until it’s just another phone.

AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptopmag.com, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. i told u so.com Says:

    i understand what your saying but banning a device because they maybe dont want to offer a service on something that will be in the Google Graveyard soon like BUZZ is blasmophmy. Plus ontop of that Google has to make as much money on devices within the first month since it will be outclassed the follow month with the same type of phone, from a different OEM, with a minor bump in specs smh.

  2. Paul Says:

    You make a valid point and I agree, however, I think Google is probably just as much to blame. Deals like these aren’t made in a few days or weeks even. The Verizon branding (in place of Google), the Google Wallet, they all would have to be part of a deal that has been months in the making.

    Maybe there is something more to it. Maybe we’ll find out if it’s ever released. I would love to have a pure Google phone on Verizon. For now thought, I’m quite happy with my Bionic.

  3. Douglas Ford Says:

    I don’t want Google to block Verizon from getting this phone! I am on Verizon and I am fine with a little bit of their crap. I can root it and uninstall and install what I want as soon as it comes out. It’s what I had to do to many phones to make them usable (stupid Verizon bloat and OEM’s custom interfaces eating up ram and corrupting devices). :)

  4. Preach On Says:

    Here here. +1

  5. David Says:

    In a word, yes. I, in fact, hope GN never comes to VZ. They are a disgrace of a carrier.

  6. singh Says:

    It’s too late … Google & Verizon should have discussed the goolge wallet long before making this deal. But it’s people like you who are making this a huge issue. Who cares about google wallet I want the phone and don’t want them to delay because some customers can’t take credit cards out of there pockets.

  7. Fish1552 Says:

    If VZW does NOT release this thing as a vanilla GED, and add their crap to it, I’m keeping my OGDroid and not buying anything until I can get one – from them or another carrier.

  8. Jeff Says:

    It already is “just another phone”. Two months ago I could overlook its flaws. Now, with the phones announced for early next year, I’m waiting for something with better specs that will be confirmed rooted and will run CyanogenMod, which I’d probably put on anyways.

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