Update: RCR Wireless is now reporting that Alltel is planning a similar BREW UI initiative, as is upcoming MVNO Amp’d Mobile (the one which touts its CEO as a “teen marketing expert”).
Verizon will soon be deploying the latest component of their BREW strategy, BREW UI. BREW UI will allow for Verizon to deploy the same commonized user interface to all their phones, as well as maintain, improve and update their user interface over-the-air automatically.
There are upsides and downsides to the consumer with this approach. The immediate upsides are clear to the uninformed consumer, for example, they will be able to purchase content as well as receive updates to the user interface even after their phone is discontinued. Content will, in theory, be easier to purchase and use as Verizon can train every rep as to what the user is using.
However, at the same time, it makes the carrier have total dominance over the device. Any codes a user wants to access, any queries, or independent services, will all be blocked at the discretion of Verizon. Currently, if you want to use your own MMS service, you can, if you want to use your own WAP gateway, you can, if you want to query your GPS location, you can. This is because the phone manufacturer both wants to be attractive to the consumer and the carrier. With this change, Verizon will have full control over what alternative services the user can access.
BREW UI does not seem to be catching on outside of Verizon. Sprint has clearly chosen to not adopt BREW at all in favor of open standards, and the GSM world continues to shrug at BREW even in light of adopting Qualcomm chipsets for UMTS deployment. Regional CDMA carriers also do not appear to be adopting BREW UI at this time.