In a surprising announcement, Verizon Wireless today broke the news that it will open up its network to developers, enabling its customers to use any device, application, and software they choose provided that they meet certain standards that make them compatible with Verizon's network.

Up until now, Verizon has retained more control over its network of services and devices than its competitors, but that's about to change. The move follows Google's announcement of the Open Handset Alliance and its Linux-based Android mobile phone platform which will supposedly pave the way for mobile phones and apps that will work across participating networks. So far, these networks include T-Mobile and Sprint.

The technical standards will be made available to developers in early 2008. Verizon says customers will still be able to go to their stores and purchase phones and services just as they do now, but the opportunity to use the device of their choice beyond of what Verizon has to offer could really add to the network's appeal.