We’ve heard rumors about Verizon blocking Google Wallet on Galaxy Nexus a while ago, and while this is as anti-competitive as it gets, especially after the new open spectrum and net neutrality rules that Google helped push, they manage to pull this off by having Google not make the app available in the first place. If the app is not available, it means they are off the hook.
There are 2 reasons why they would want to do this. The first one is the most shameless one, and it’s because they want their upcoming mobile payment app Isis, which is a competitor to Google Wallet, to become the defacto payment app for all their Android handsets. Knowing carriers, they will try very hard to make this happen, because they know there is big money to be made from payments transaction fees.
I don’t really have a problem with this per se, but I do have a problem if they are forcing basically their only competition, out of this market, which is why I don’t think this would stand for too long. Worst case scenario, the FCC will intervene. I don’t like the trend of Google making too many concessions with Verizon, though. But maybe they accepted not to make Google Wallet available for now, and in turn get to allow the users to finally disable the bloatware on their phones (although not uninstall it, too).
The second possibility could be of an actual technicality that Verizon has mentioned in their PR:
“Recent reports that Verizon is blocking Google Wallet on our devices are false. Verizon does not block applications.
Google Wallet is different from other widely-available m-commerce services. Google Wallet does not simply access the operating system and basic hardware of our phones like thousands of other applications. Instead, in order to work as architected by Google, Google Wallet needs to be integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones.
We are continuing our commercial discussions with Google on this issue.”
I wouldn’t be the first to trust Verizon on this, but it’s possible Verizon blocks Google Wallet not necessarily because of their upcoming Isis app, but mainly because they want to lock you in (as usual) with a different type of NFC chip. The Google Nexus that works on GSM networks has the NFC chip embedded in the battery, and Verizon might want to have the NFC chip in the SIM card.
Why do the 2 approaches even exist? Normally I’d be inclined to favor the SIM-based NFC, because this means you’ll be able to replace your battery in the future. I suspect the reason Google chose to use the NFC chip that’s embedded in the battery, was because they want you to be able to replace carriers, especially when it comes to the GSM version. Until all mobile carriers use NFC in their SIM cards, you won’t be able to use NFC if you change your carrier, so for now NFC embedded in the battery might be the best solution.
As for Google Wallet on Google Nexus, I’m hoping it will be allowed shortly by Verizon, as soon as they get their SIM-based NFC chip ready.