An early peek at Verizon's ( VZ) crop of new phones reveals a less than titillating collection of gadgets. It looks like Verizon will have about seven new phones in the coming months. And with the exception of one, Research in Motion's ( RIMM) BlackBerry Niagara, the lineup could easily be mistaken for last year's models. Two of those so-called new phones are of the 2G variety, which is puzzling given how far along the 3G superhighway we've roamed. Three phones are clam shells, the flip-phone style Motorola's ( MOT) Razr made popular about five years ago.
This is a particularly lame showing given AT&T's ( T) plan to showcase the new BlackBerry-like Nokia ( NOK) E71 and Samsung Propel at the CTIA wireless trade show in Las Vegas starting Wednesday. AT&T also expects to have a new version of the Apple ( AAPL) iPhone available this summer. Verizon, meanwhile, has been pushing along with its BlackBerry Storm and Curve, and recently added the Samsung Omnia, a touchscreen device that runs on Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows Mobile 6.1 software. The upcoming BlackBerry Niagara, which TheStreet.com first reported to be coming in May, is about the only bright spot so far on Verizon's horizon. Smartphones have been the fastest-growing segment of the wireless industry and a crucial weapon to help telcos lure high-spending customers into two-year contracts. A Verizon representative declined to offer any insight into the company's future phone lineup. A search of the various gadget blogs, including Gizmodo and BoyGeniusReport, shows a few new phones coming Verizon's way this year.
Samsung Smooth (a low-priced 2G flip phone targeted at tweens and seniors) Samsung Alias2 (an update of the dual hinge QWERTY keypad 3G Alias) Samsung Trance (a low-priced 2G slider) Samsung Omnia ($99 w/contract, 5m camera, WiFi, touchscreen) Nokia Intrigue (a 3G flip phone) LG Versa ($149 3G touchscreen with an attachable QWERTY keyboard)
Given the competition, Verizon needs to smarten up its phone roster if it wants to defend its turf.