There was a time when you had to pick a smartphone model and the service provider together. Want an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone? Then you're tethered to AT&T's (NYSE: T ) wireless network. If you prefer wireless service through Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) , you'd have to go with a BlackBerry Storm from Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , or more recently a Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) Droid with the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android software inside.
The biggest exception to that rule was that RIM played the field. You can get a BlackBerry Curve, Pearl, or 8800 from any of the big four networks in North America, and many smaller outfits besides. Now Google is sending its Nexus One Androids into every corner of the market. The Nexus One is available on T-Mobile and AT&T today; the Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) version is now officially on the way, and we've known about Verizon's plans to carry the phone's announcement.
Google has copied the carrier-agnostic BlackBerry strategy and commissioned handset manufacturer HTC to create versions of the Nexus One for every relevant 3G communications standard. This is the exact opposite of Apple's single-vendor, single-model approach. It won't make the Nexus into a million-unit monster overnight like the Droid is, unless one or more of the carriers decide to put a $100 million marketing campaign behind the device like Verizon did for the Droid. But this even spread of consumer channels will level the playing field between the networks in a way that no smartphone outside the BlackBerry line ever did.
Google has made a commodity out of network providers, just like the cable industry is being reduced to a bunch of interchangeable Internet service providers. The Nexus One won't kill the iPhone or the BlackBerry, but it is a valuable experiment in cell phone business that will lead Google to bigger and better things.
Have any thoughts on the Nexus One moving to different carriers or the commoditization of wireless carriers? Drop a message in the comments area below!