We’ve been so preoccupied with the upcoming Droid, it’s hard to believe it’s here. Or, almost here. It’s just a week away, due to arrive in stores Nov. 6.
Will it live up to the hype? Verizon Wireless has been running the iDon’t commercials for a while now, taking an aggressive dig at Apple’s iPhone. (At the same time, Verizon Communications Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg told analysts earlier this week that Verizon would be open to partnering with Apple in the future; the decision is in Apple’s court. So much for trying to interpret a company’s strategy through their advertisements.)
No one can be sure whether the new Droid will live up to the hype. A lot of people remember the buildup surrounding the first BlackBerry Storm, and we all know where that went. Over at Sprint, this past summer’s much-anticipated launch of the Palm Pre was a great marketing effort, but since then, the reception to the product has been lukewarm.
Meanwhile, the blogs are ablaze with Droid reviews, most of them quite positive, citing neat features like a dedicated keyboard and Google Maps. Not too many reviews are declaring it a clear-cut iPhone killer. Still, it’s Verizon’s best bet against the iPhone to date.
What does all of this mean for Motorola, once considered the walking dead? The company introduced its first Android-based device with T-Mobile USA about seven weeks ago. The Cliq with MotoBlur, Motorola’s social networking management system, will be in stores this Monday, selling for $200 with a two-year contract.
For whatever reason, Verizon’s Droid, also selling for $200 after (annoying) rebate, doesn’t come with MotoBlur. Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha told analysts in a conference call this week that the Droid is “what we call a Google experience device,” adding that Droid has very good integration of social networking anyway. MotoBlur will be in a majority of devices next year, and Motorola will have MotoBlur-capable devices on Verizon’s network in 2010.
According to recent handset market share reports, Motorola’s global share is about 4.7 percent worldwide, down from about 8 percent a year ago. While Sony Ericsson is not doing so hot, Samsung and LG are gaining. According to ABI Research, Apple’s market share is only 2.5 percent, but the iPhone is practically all anyone talks about.
Unless Motorola wants to be a one-hit wonder like it was with the Razr, it can’t put all its eggs into the Droid basket. (Or can it? Apple seems to have done pretty well with the iPhone.) Motorola is queuing up more than 20 different smartphone releases, most based on Android, for next year. So even though many of us surmised that no buyer would want the handset division, it now appears that reports of its death were premature. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how many quarters it’s going to take to get back on track.