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Verizon, Google collaborating on Android-powered iPad competitor

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam revealed to The Wall Street Journal Tuesday that his company is working with Google to create a tablet device to compete with the iPad.

"What do we think the next big wave of opportunities are?" McAdam said during an interview with the paper. "We're working on tablets together, for example. We're looking at all the things Google has in its archives that we could put on a tablet to make it a great experience."

The chief executive declined, however, to discuss details on the hardware, such as who might manufacture it or when it would be released. Android has played a significant role in Verizon's efforts to combat the iPhone, and McAdam portrayed the collaborative tablet effort with Google in the same light as their existing handset efforts.

When Verizon and Google announced their partnership last October, they even went as far as to specifically highlight the ability of Android phones to utilize the Google Voice service — something Apple has famously prohibited from software on its App Store.

Years ago, Verizon passed on the iPhone, and AT&T instead signed a longterm exclusive contract with Apple for the touchscreen device. The iPhone has helped AT&T to close the gap with Verizon, which is the largest wireless carrier in the U.S.

McAdam told the Journal that Verizon now must catch up with AT&T in the mobile data business, as AT&T is the exclusive carrier for Apple's iPhone, and offers the only 3G data plans in the U.S. for the iPad. He noted that Verizon's CDMA network has held it back, but revealed that the carrier will show new 4G-capable devices in early 2011, when its new high-speed network is in place. The current plan is to have the network operational in 25 to 30 cities by the end of 2010.

McAdam said he believes the new network will usher in tiered data plans for his network, noting that "the old model of one price plan per device is going to fall away." He acknowledged that users who buy devices that run on next-generation networks will likely pay more to access than customers do on current 3G networks.

For its part, AT&T has repeatedly denied that it will move towards tiered data plans for mobile customers. But AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson raised eyebrows in March when he said he believes the industry will move towards "variable pricing." The exclusive carrier of the iPhone currently offers unlimited plans for Apple's handset, as well as the iPad.

"For the industry, we will progressively move towards more of what I call variable pricing," Stephenson said in March. "The heavy consumers will pay different than the lower consumers."