Verizon Says It Will Open Network to "Any Apps, Any Device" in 2008S

In a startling announcement, Verizon Wireless pledged today to offer its network to "wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the company." We're a bit surprised, given the network protectionism that Verizon is known for. According to the release, Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless president and chief executive officer, didn't say this was a change of tactic, but rather an enhancement of service offerings "for customers looking for a different wireless experience." As you'd expect, there seems to be a small catch:

In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.
So, it's not like you can build your own phone in the basement, then call VZW to apply service. But the press release does mention a conference Verizon will host, "to explain the standards and get input from the development community."

We have so many questions—Why is Verizon doing this now? Who is the target manufacturer for these "BYO" phones?—that we'll be hopping on a call soon to hopefully get to the bottom of it. [Verizon Wireless]