* May reduce mobile operating systems to 3-4 from 8-9
* To collaborate with Softbank, China Mobile, Vodafone
* Rules out network sharing, network outsourcing
* Says momentum unchanged, pressure on enterprise segment (Recasts throughout, adds more executive comment)
By Sinead Carew
LAS VEGAS, April 1 (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless hopes to roughly halve the number of cellphone operating systems that it needs to support in the next few years to help improve the time it takes to bring new technologies to customers.
The company, owned by Verizon Communications (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L), said on Wednesday it has teamed up with China Mobile (0941.HK), Vodafone and Japan’s Softbank Corp (9984.T) to create a single platform to make it easier for developers to create mobile data applications for cellphones.
Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said the company didn’t want to shun particular operating systems but was looking for ways to make it easier to bring new applications to consumers.
“We probably have, literally, eight or nine different operating systems ... What we hope over the next few years is to land on about three to four,” McAdam told reporters at the CTIA annual wireless technology showcase.
There are already several widely used operating systems from companies such as Nokia NOK1V.HE, Microsoft (MSFT.O), Research In Motion RIM.TO, Palm Inc PALM.O, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Google Inc (GOOG.O).
Verizon will hold its first conference for application developers this summer, suggesting the company could join its device suppliers in the race to build application stores.
McAdam ruled out network-sharing agreements with rival providers and network management outsourcing as ways for Verizon to save money as it gears up to build a new network in one of the weakest economies in years.
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said he doesn’t expect a big increase in capital spending for a high-speed network based on a technology known as LTE that the company plans to build starting this year.
“It’s going to be not that expensive. It’s mostly built into the run-rate of what we’re talking about” for Verizon’s typical anual network spending, he told reporters.
Asked about how the business was doing in a weak economy, Seidenberg told Reuters ahead of his keynote speech at the show that momentum had not changed from Verizon’s last few quarterly reports. Verizon has yet to report first quarter results.
Seidenberg said Verizon was still seeing growth in video, Internet and wireless as the recession puts pressure on its enterprise business and traditional phone line segment.
“In an economy that seems to have forgotten how to grow, the mobile industry keeps reminding us,” he said in his speech.
He cited Nielsen Research that showed consumers spending five hours a day watching television, one hour surfing the Web and 26 minutes using their mobile phones.
“If we can get even a modest amount more of that use to mobile, we have more than enough room to grow,” he said.
The company also hopes to see growth from connecting many different types of devices besides cellphones, said Seidenberg, who envisions as many as five wireless connections for every consumer in the country in years to come.
While some of this growth would be achieved by convincing consumers to carry additional wireless devices, much would come from connecting everything from electricity meters to inventory measurement systems for supermarket shelves, he said.
McAdam said Verizon would keep its existing network running as long as seven years while it expanded the new LTE network. (Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Gunna Dickson and Ted Kerr)