NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Verizon ( VZ) wants you to believe it has now embraced the wireless Web.

Verizon and Google ( GOOG) kicked off a partnership Tuesday that not only lacked exclusivity, but it also didn't even include the new Motorola ( MOT) Android phone for demonstration purposes.

Yet despite the lack of beef, Verizon still managed to suggest that something new is afoot.

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After years of crippling common features like WiFi and Bluetooth and restricting applications and media libraries to Verizon-only services, the old-line phone giant seems to have finally bowed to consumer democracy.

For years, critics and consumer advocates scorned Verizon's closed-wall approach to devices. But in the end, all it took was a gun to the head -- in the form of AT&T's ( T) Apple ( AAPL) iPhone -- to get Verizon to consider loosening up.

Around May of last year, as AT&T was preparing to release the next version of the Apple iPhone with a dramatically lower $200 price tag, Verizon wireless chief Lowell McAdam decided to visit Google.

CEO Eric Schmidt said McAdam came to the company's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters looking to work on something "really differentiated."

For the past year prior to that, Verizon had watched the iPhone grab the industry's attention with its dazzling Web browser and inviting App Store.

McAdam's predecessor Dennis Strigl was originally approached by Apple to sell the iPhone but rejected the offer, not because of the revenue-sharing arrangements, as many thought, but because Apple wanted too much control over what was on the phone and who would support it.

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