Verizon is looking to ignite an Apple-Microsoft rivalry for the smartphone era.
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The telecom giant, feeling the pinch of Apple's expensive iPhone, said yesterday it wants to help Microsoft succeed in creating an alternative mobile platform.
"It is important that there is a third ecosystem that is brought into the mix here, and we are fully supportive of that with Microsoft," said Verizon Wireless chief financial officer Fran Shammo.
Microsoft and its hardware partner, Nokia, are trying to make a dent in Apple and Google's dominance in smartphone software. Earlier this month, the Nokia Lumia 900, running Windows Phone software, started selling in the US.
While the Microsoft ecosystem is just barely out of the gate and not now a threat to Google's Android or Apple's platforms, with fewer high-profile app developers on board, Windows is still seen as a future rival to the twosome especially as RIM's BlackBerry continues to fall off, industry analysts said.
A third competitor in the space would lessen carriers' dependence on Apple and its iPhone, which is popular but costs carriers $600 apiece and is sold at a loss.
Verizon and rivals, like AT&T, offset some of the margin squeeze through costly data plans.
Ironically, news that Verizon was actively looking to lessen its reliance on the iPhone came as the carrier reported sales of Apple's most profitable device fell to 3.2 million units in the first quarter from 4.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.
That helped send Apple shares tumbling. They closed down 3.4 percent to $587.44.
Verizon has made it clear that it would like to lessen its dependence on the double-edged iPhone. It recently started charging customers $30 if they upgrade phones in the middle of their contracts.