With the formal unveiling of the Motorola Droid Wednesday, buzz mounted online that Verizon Wireless may have finally found an answer to the iPhone. The sleek smartphone boasts a large screen, slide-out keyboard, a free navigation service and the debut of Android 2.0, the upgraded version of Google's mobile OS.
At $200, it's also priced competitively with the iPhone 3G S (16 GB) and other competing smartphones. But other phones heralded as iPhone killers and eliciting early praise (see Palm Pre, BlackBerry Storm, T-Mobile G1) fell far short when it came to actual consumer uptake. So whether the Droid will live up to the hype when it goes on sale next week is hardly assured.
The release of several new smartphones before the holiday season, including Verizon's own BlackBerry Storm 2, won't make it any easier for the Droid to cut through the noise. It also follows on the heels of other iPhone challengers including HTC Hero from Sprint and Motorola Cliq from T-Mobile.
But with the initial phase of its Droid ad campaign highlighting shortcomings of the iPhone, no competitor to date has raised the stakes so high for its own success. If it doesn't end up selling nearly as well as the Apple device, the Droid will be another in a long list of iPhone wannabes-even if Verizon's promotional effort positions it as the anti-iPhone.