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 Verizon, Motorola unveil the Droid

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PostSubject: Verizon, Motorola unveil the Droid   Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:49 pm




NEW YORK--Verizon Wireless customers will soon be able to get their
hands on the much anticipated Google Android phone called the Droid.

The companies officially unveiled the device at an event here. Like
most smartphones of its class, the phone will cost $199 with a two-year
contract. And it will be available to consumers starting November 6.
Customers can pre-order the device now.


The Motorola Droid

(Credit: Motorola) The device offers voice-activated search that allows
users to speak a query and the Google-powered search engine will
deliver Web results or results from the device such as contacts, music,
and photos. The voice search also works with the new turn-by-turn
directions for Google Maps. It allows users to view geographic
information, such as My Maps, Wikipedia entries, and transit lines on
the map.

John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for
Verizon Wireless, said he had used the navigation service just
yesterday on a trip to Arkansas. He said he simply spoke "gas station"
into the phone and it quickly found nearby gas stations. When he
clicked on one of them, it activated the turn-by-turn directions and he
was given spoken directions right from the phone.

While the new Droid is loaded with lots of cool Android apps and has
access to the more than 10,000 applications available in the Android
Market, it does not have many of Verizon's branded services. For
example, Verizon's VCast music service is missing in this version. But
Stratton said that will be added eventually. And the phone does not
have Verizon's VZ Navigator, since it comes bundled with the Google
Android navigation.

The good news is that some of the services, such as navigation that
Verizon charges for on devices running VZNavigator, will be free to
users of the Droid.

In terms of the specifications, they are exactly what had been expected
thanks to multiple leaks about the product. It has Android 2.0, a
5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. It has a Webkit HTML 5
browser, and it's powered by a 550MHz processor and a 1,400mAh lithium
ion battery offering 6.4 hours of continuous talk time and up to 11
days of standby time.

And as expected, the device is about 4.6 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide
by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 6 ounces. And it has a 3.7-inch, 16:9
touch screen with 480x854-pixel resolution. It also has a 3.5mm
headphone jack, a micro-USB port, and comes with a 16GB micro-SD card.

iPhone contender
It's clear that the Droid is targeted at people looking for an
alternative to the iPhone. And Verizon is planning the biggest media
campaign it has ever launched for the device. But Stratton said the
company is not going to specifically target the iPhone in its
marketing. As a sort of pre-Droid ad campaign, Verizon spoofed iPhone
advertising.

"We had some fun here with the iPhone stuff," he said. "The teaser was
to wake up the market. And I've got to give Apple credit. They
revolutionized the industry as a new player and that's extraordinary.
But we have to show that the iPhone is not untouchable."

Instead, Stratton said that Verizon will focus its advertising more on
what the Droid can do rather than what other devices can't do.

Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said he is impressed with the new device, and he expects it to shake up the market.

Specifically, he said it's important that the device matches the iPhone
in terms of onboard storage. And even though it doesn't come with
Verizon's VCast music service, it does work with Amazon's music and
media service. And users can also manually sync their unprotected
iTunes music or other MP3 music to the device. But at least for now,
there is no automatic media synchronization. Stratton said that is
coming, but right now the iPhone trumps the Droid in terms of ease of
use in getting music and media on the device.

But the other key aspect of the device and services offered is the fact
that the navigation service is bundled into the device and data service
for free. Sprint Nextel has bundled its navigation service into its
data services for a while, but so far it hasn't become a competitive
advantage. And phone maker Nokia has spent billions acquiring companies
and developing its mapping services, and it doesn't offer its
navigation service for free. But the Android 2.0 operating system could
change that.

Motorola and Verizon are also offering an accessory that mounts the
phone in the car. When the phone is in this mount, it recognizes it is
in the car and it provides an car friendly user interface.

"This is going to be disruptive to other smartphones and personal navigation devices," Greengart said.

But the big question is whether or not consumers will flock to the
Droid. Several new smartphones are launching right before the holiday
season, including additional new Android devices and Research In
Motion's new Blackberry Storm 2, which is also exclusively on Verizon's
network.
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