It’s a full-court press blitz for Verizon Wireless as the carrier launches the Droid by Motorola today, complete with midnight lines outside stores. The Droid marks what many believe to be the carrier’s best bet yet at offering a match to rival AT&T’s iPhone.
In New York, Verizon’s store on 34th Street was open from midnight to 2 a.m. so customers could get their hands on the $199.99 Android 2.0 phone. The special two-hour sale was only for Android devices and accessories. Other stores around the country had special hours as well.
The events will continue as Verizon uses interactive billboards in Times Square letting callers control two of the square’s largest digital billboards using voice commands. The billboards instruct passersby to call a toll-free number and search locations in the Times Square area, with the results displayed on the billboards using Google Maps.
All of the attention is great for Motorola, whose market share has dropped to the No. 5-ranked position in the third quarter, down from the No. 2 spot as recently as the first quarter of 2007, reports market research firm iSuppli.
“Droid is potentially a game changer for Motorola,” said Tina Teng, senior analyst at iSuppli, in a statement. “Motorola now is no longer just emphasizing slick form factors, such as it did with its RAZR handset. The company now has focused on the hottest segment of the global mobile handset market – providing compelling smartphone products that are usable and expandable through third-party applications. Droid also has capitalized on the trend toward smartphone widgets, which allow users to customize products according to their own personality.”
Android is expected to account for only 2.4 percent of the total smart OS market in 2009, but it’s growing fast. iSuppli expects Android will have a 9.1 percent share of the global smartphone market in 2013.
Telecom analyst Jeff Kagan says it will be months before anyone knows how successful the Droid will be for Verizon, Motorola and Google. “Verizon has been a very strong competitor, but has had sleepy handsets to choose from as AT&T and Sprint captured all the attention,” he said. “This Droid brand could rejuvenate Verizon, finally giving them something that customers really want.”
Kagan concludes: “I believe it (Droid) will be more successful than the Samsung and LG handsets because of the Google brand, but not as successful as the Apple iPhone. It will fall somewhere in the middle.”