Wacky Google/Verizon net neutrality theory

Update: Google subsequently addressed part of the theory I lay out below in a post on their public policy blog, Facts about our network neutrality policy proposal, which is worth reading.

I agree with my friend Nelson that Google’s new stance on net neutrality seems really weird and out of character. Let me propose a total grassy-knoll/two-shooter conspiracy theory so you can talk me out of it.

What if Google agreed to Verizon’s stance on wireless net neutrality in order to keep Verizon from making a deal with Apple for the iPhone?

Rumors about Verizon and the iPhone are evergreens, and now that the iPhone 4 hype is dying down, those rumors are starting up again. Coincidental timing of “Huge CDMA chipset order” rumors and this net neutrality piece shouldn’t be anything other than coincidental.

But the news came out in such an odd way. Google’s participation in these talks was leaked, and Google rather strongly denied that the NY Times piece on the talks was accurate, but then it came out that it was. The artlessness of that announcement is very weird. Could someone on the Verizon side have leaked it to push Google towards taking that stance?

What does Google have to gain from agreeing to Verizon’s stance? It seems like little or nothing, or at least nothing obvious. And yet they’re investing a lot in Android and making a lot of progress. If a Verizon iPhone came out, would they lose the lead they’re just approaching or have just reached? Is there something they could give Verizon to keep that from happening?

Wacky theory. I’ll fully admit I’m unqualified even to guess. So, someone talk me out of it?

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