* Sees first phones on shelves in March
* Declines to disclose service or device pricing
(Adds analyst quote, background details)
By Sinead Carew
LAS VEGAS, Jan 6 Verizon Wireless plans to have
10 new devices, including four smartphones, and new tablets on
store shelves by mid year for its high-speed wireless data
service, strengthening its position in a race to convince
consumers to use more expensive services such as mobile Web.
The venture of Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and
Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) said the new phones would come from
vendors including HTC Corp (2498.TW), LG Electronics
(066570.KS) and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS).
Verizon Wireless showed off the gadgets, the first of which
will start selling in March, at an event at the Consumer
Electronics Show but declined comment on prices for the devices
or accompanying services.
The new gadgets could hurt Sprint Nextel (S.N) more than
other competitors. So far Sprint Nextel has been alone in
offering phones supporting the latest, fastest wireless data
Verizon's biggest rival, AT&T Inc (T.N), is more than a
year behind in delivering a service based on the same
technology and is instead upgrading its existing network to
offer higher-speed services.
While analysts were impressed with the number of devices
Verizon introduced, they said its success would depend on
competitive pricing of both the hardware and the service.
Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said that Verizon
Wireless should not price the new smartphones above the
benchmark price of $200 for an advanced phone.
"We suspect there's a premium on the data service side,"
Greengart said. "The model is, you subsidize the device and
make the money back on the data service."
Take a Look [ID:nN06281426]
Factbox on global mobile market share [ID:nN06121101]
Graphic showing global smartphone market
NEW APPS FOR 4G
Verizon Wireless highlighted new applications such as
mobile video chat from Skype and multi-player video games such
as Rock Band from Electronic Arts ERTS.O, which are expected
to take advantage of the new network's higher speeds.
The new phones are all based on Google Inc (GOOG.O) Android
software, the phone system Verizon has leaned heavily on to
fight off competition from AT&T in the last year.
Verizon Wireless is widely expected to start selling a
version of Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone this quarter, finally
wrestling exclusive U.S. rights to the phone from its biggest
rival AT&T after four years.
Samsung is providing three of the devices in the new
line-up, including a tablet computer and a large 4.3-inch phone
and a gadget that can connect five different devices to the
network via Wi-Fi. HTC and LG will both provide phones.
Late last year, Verizon Wireless launched a new high-speed
wireless network in markets covering 110 million people with a
new technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE).
On Jan. 5, Verizon Wireless said it would sell a phone from
Motorola Mobility (MMI.N) for the 4G network, and plans to
offer a Motorola tablet computer that will initially work on
its older network but will be upgradeable to the faster
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Carol Bishopric)