When Google and Verizon (G-V) announced their “joint policy framework” on net neutrality, the search giant denied its new position had been shaped by its alliance with the telecom giant.
Numerous critics note the proposal effectively abandoned Google’s once clear-cut defense of net neutrality. Among the most noteworthy retreats: advocating that net neutrality not be required for wireless devices.
Then came a Download Squad report this week that Google and Verizon plan to market a tablet computer this November to compete with Apple’s IPad. The idea has been in development since last year. Google has put out key concepts and design proposals for Web developers. In short, the unnamed tablet is exactly the sort of wireless device that G-V prefer not be governed by net neutrality.
What Gigaom said about the G-V policy proposal is equally true of the tablet: “it doesn’t take a lot to see Verizon angling to protect its ability to profit over its control over its pipes.”
Google’s defense is likely to be price. The Download Square report suggested that Verizon will subsidize the hardware in order to drastically undercut Apple’s pricey $499 Ipad.
“You can bet Google’s Chrome OS tablet will be heavily subsidized, and I’d go so far as to say it will be substantially cheaper than the iPad — if not totally free — with a Verizon data contract.”
A free device sounds like a nice consumer benefit. But it could also help pave the way to a two-tiered internet where top-quality service depends on a contract with Verizon.