Invasion of the droids? Verizon Wireless is making good on its previously announced decision to put a focus on Google Android-based smartphones with the aptly named Verizon Droid from Motorola Inc., due out by the end of the year. The carrier is clearly challenging the Apple iPhone with the new device, if the marketing is any indication.
Verizon recently began running “there’s a map for that” ads, which parody Apple’s iconic “there’s an app for that” slogan while comparing its 3G coverage map with that of the iPhone-wielding AT&T Inc.. Naturally, being a marketing piece, Verizon’s looks much fuller in the ad.
And now, with the unveiling of the Droid, Verizon is ratcheting the rhetoric up a notch by blatantly issuing a challenge to the iPhone. “Everything iDon’t, Droid Does,” says the slogan. The ad then gets specific: “We have a physical keyboard, we have multitasking, we can take 5-megapixel photos with flash, our users can customize the UI, our development is open source, and our battery is replaceable. iPhone doesn’t do any of this.”
The Droid will run an updated version of Android and has all the desirable smartphone goodies, including video recording and touchscreen, along with the integrated Android Market widget store.
Can it knock iPhone off of its perch? Verizon is trying its best to credibly challenge Apple and AT&T, going beyond just carrying exclusive devices to having a more tightly integrated arrangement with the OS. Google and Verizon announced that they were collaborating on Android-based handsets with Android Market pre-installed back in the spring, but Verizon’s overall arrangement with Google, announced earlier in October, signals a larger strategy initiative.
The pact also includes working on emerging device categories like consumer electronics and netbooks, while Google will make Verizon its go-to (but not only) carrier for developing new applications and services. Verizon will, essentially, be an innovation test bed for Google. And that gives Verizon some advantages as opposed to just carrying an Android device or three. Like developer faith, developer loyalty and built-in app compatibility. And apps of course, are a big linchpin in the appeal of the iPhone experience.
Verizon has heretofore relied on BlackBerries and Windows Mobile devices to fill out its high-end phone stable, with varying degrees of success. But it has committed to bringing two Android phones to market by the end of the year; it hasn’t announced the next model yet.
For Motorola, the Droid is its second announced Android-based phone, the other being the CLIQ, which will run on T-Mobile USA’s network. For Android, the announcement is part of a veritable flood of new Android-based devices being unveiled in recent weeks, all of which are positioning the OS to be a real contender in the smart device game.