Verizon Wireless Wednesday announced that its forthcoming Droid smartphone from Motorola will hit store shelves Nov. 6 and sell for $200 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate.
The new phone will also be the first powered by Android 2.0, the latest version of Google's open mobile operating system. Verizon began hyping the Droid last with TV spots taking on the iPhone directly. The brash ads spotlight a list of things the signature Apple device can't do (iDon't have a real keyboard, iDon't take 5-megapixel pictures, iDont customize) and carry the tag line: "Everything iDont, Droid Does."
Now Verizon has to back up its boast by actually delivering an iPhone killer, or at least a credible challenger. To that end, the Motorola smartphone offers a raft of high-end features including a slide-out Qwerty keyboard, 16 GB of memory preloaded, a 5-megapixel camera and 3.7-inch touchscreen.
"Droid by Motorola gives customers a lifestyle device with access to more than 12,000 applications that will help them stay in touch, up to date and entertained, using the best 3G network in the country," said John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless, in a statement underscoring the carrier's stronger reputation for network reliability than rival AT&T.
Verizon also touted its close collaboration with Google on the device, highlighting capabilities like voice-activated search, Google Maps Navigation, a new service providing turn-by-turn voice navigation, combined Gmail and Exchange email, Google Talk and Android Market for downloading apps.
In an advance review last week, Boy Genius Report posted a glowing appraisal of the new smartphone, concluding that "once you move past the initial 'wow' factor, the Droid really delivers." "So will the Motorola Droid be successful? Absolutely, we think. It will eat in to BlackBerry sales, Windows Mobile sales, and positively murder any lingering Palm Pre sales. It's that good."
Verizon has to hope so. While the carrier gloats over AT&T's much-publicized difficulties meeting the data traffic demand from the iPhone, Verizon is still looking for a hot phone that can generate that kind of consumer interest. The company added 1.2 million new wireless customers in the third quarter -- only about half the total it brought in a year earlier, and far less than the 2 million AT&T added in the quarter. The iPhone alone accounted for 40% of new subscribers.
Despite Verizon's iPhone-bashing Droid campaign, however, CEO Ivan Seidenberg suggested in the company's third-quarter conference call this week that an alliance with Apple for the device wasn't out of the question. "We would be interested at some point in the future, and they thought it would be interesting to have us as a partner," he said. Whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs feels the same way after the Droid ads and the phone's upcoming launch isn't clear.