Verizon’s Droid X Launches with No Shortages, Challenges iPhone 4

Ah, to be in the right place, at the right time, which is right where Verizon Wireless finds itself at the moment. On Thursday it launched its new flagship smartphone, the Motorola Droid X, and despite ground rumblings to the contrary the carrier anticipates no shortages online, and plenty of stock at stores. And in that, it will find a competitive advantage at the moment, particularly if the Droid X doesnt require duct tape to place voice calls.

Verizon is positioning the gadget directly against the iPhone, even launching an ad slamming the iPhone 4 for its hardware problems. The launch of course comes amid the iPhone 4 recall drumbeat for its antenna issues (incidentally, Apple Inc. is holding a press conference tomorrow to announce, if not a recall, perhaps free duct tape?). Oh and if you still want one, youre still going to have to wait about three weeks. And meanwhile, Samsungs AMOLED display shortage has run the well dry on Sprints WiMAX-enabled HTC EVO 4G (suspended indefinitely), and Verizons HTC Droid Incredible and other Android phones (at east a month backlog). Call it the summer of delayed smartphone gratification.

Into this nice competitive breach comes the Droid X. Verizon said stores will carry between 50 to 100 units each, with more than 30,000 units a phone call away at regional warehouses, for delivery the next day. Verizon spokespeople also told press that those pesky supply issues from components makers are not expected either. Availability in this case is a nice advantage over the competitors marquee devices and it offers a way to assuage upset Droid Incredible aficionados, all at a time when a thirst for smartphones is growing. Analyst firm Gartner Inc. estimates that first-quarter sales of smartphones jumped 48.7 percent globally year-over-year.

Will the timing translate into sales for the device? Some stores opened at midnight and reports of long lines have come in for certain locations. Whether it will reach the iPhone 4s 1.7-million-unit-mark for the opening three days remains to be seen, but Verizon certainly put enough marketing spend behind the device, with three sets of ads, including the one poking fun at the iPhone 4s hardware issue.

The Droid X offers some significant upgrades and the price is competitive: It has an 8-megapixel camera, a 720p video output and a MiFi-like Wi-Fi hotspot-maker for connecting Wi-Fi devices to the Internet anytime (tethering is capped at 2GB however). It also has a 4.3-inch LCD and runs Android 2.1. As a bonus, an upgrade to the Froyo Android 2.2 OS and Flash 10.1 will come in August. It sells for $199 for new two-year activations; the Wi-Fi hotspot service is an additional $20 per month over the data plan cost.

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