Verizon Strives to Close iPhone Gap

When Steve Jobs wrapped up his announcement of the new iPhone 4, another big Apple Inc. (AAPL) event had come and gone with no mention of Verizon Wireless.

That was a disappointment for some smartphone customers. Verizon Wireless (VZ) executives, too, are eager to get their hands on the phone and speak regularly with their counterparts at Apple.

But the country’s largest wireless carrier by subscribers is also working hard on Plan B. By loosening its grip over operations and deepening its relationships with allies such as software giant Google Inc. (GOOG) and handset makers HTC Corp. and Motorola Inc. (MOT), Verizon Wireless is finally making progress in the smartphone race.

Since announcing a deal last October to develop phones with Google, the carrier has introduced two hit Google-based devices—the Motorola Droid and the Droid Incredible by HTC—and its share of the U.S. smartphone market has risen about a percentage point, to 24.1 percent at the end of March, while AT&T’s (T) fell nearly four points to 41.9 percent, according to comScore (SCOR), which measured users over 13 years old.

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