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RealTime IT News

Verizon Wireless BREWing Up Apps For 2G

Verizon Wireless official announced Thursday its deal with digital wireless phone maker QUALCOMM to use the BREW development platform to give its users access to a variety of games, entertainment and applications.

BREW, an acronym for binary runtime environment for wireless, is a programming language based on C/C++ technology that lets developers run "thin" applications on wireless digital phones or other devices. The platform can also be used for future developer applications in Java and extensible markup language (XML).

With BREW-enabled phones, Verizon Wireless customers will be able to download games, entertainment and applications over their phone for immediate use.

"We are pleased to be working with QUALCOMM to bring BREW-enabled applications to our customers. Working now with developers as they design fun games and entertainment applications, as well as information and productivity tools, means consumers will experience some very cool applications on their BREW-enabled devices," said John Stratton, Verizon Wireless chief marketing officer.

Whether the announcement really benefits Verizon Wireless users down the road remains to be seen, however.

By opening up its IS-95 (2G) platform to more thin applications, Verizon Wireless officials are clearly signaling their desire to keep the more than 29.4 million customers they have happy.

The company's much-hyped and much-lambasted 3G rollout in January, dubbed "Express Network" running on the 1XRTT platform, is considered to be the next generation in wireless communications and there were unfounded worries Verizon officials would scale back their involvement with 2G customers.

But the success of Verizon's commitment to BREW depends largely on the programmers and developers who make the applications in the first place. So far, details are sketchy over any details of the Thursday arrangement.

Jeffrey Nelson, a Verizon Wireless spokesperson, said the company would start a market-by-market test launch of select BREW applications on digital wireless phones in the coming months. He wouldn't comment on dates or cities in the launch.

"Right now we're just trying to build momentum for BREW," he said. "We will need developers to make the applications first and we will focus on games and entertainment more than applications."

Nelson wouldn't comment on what games or applications might be under development right now, though he said more details would be forthcoming in the next month.

The drawback to the BREW announcement is current Verizon Wireless customers won't be able to use the phones they're using now for these new games and applications, they'll need to buy a new phone which will be available when the service is launched in the Spring.