Verizon’s Moto ‘Droid’ an iPhone Killer? iDon’t Think So

Engadget surfaced a TV commercial/video that just aired and promotes the forthcoming second Motorola Android device. It has to date been called several things (Shoales, Tao) and is reportedly a “collaboration” between Google, Verizon and Motorola. The phone is officially being called “Droid.” The TV commercial goes directly after the iPhone with a cleverly phrased set of statements about perceived iPhone weaknesses:

  • iDon’t have a real keyboard
  • iDon’t run simultaneous apps
  • iDon’t have a 5 megapixel camera
  • iDon’t have interchangeable batteries
  • iDon’t customize
  • iDon’t run widgets

The phone will also run the new Android 2.0 software. As someone who has had the Android Magic/MyTouch3G phone and used it very extensively (not running 2.0) I can say with great confidence the phone does not match the iPhone. It doesn’t. It is a strong device but it is no “iPhone Killer” or “major threat” as it’s being called by some. And in most respects it’s not even as “crisp” as the Pre, but it has lots more apps and a virtual keyboard (two of my major objections to the Pre).

As I’ve said in the past the-physical-keyboard-as-competitive-advantage argument is specious.

The only way in which the “Droid” is a “threat” to the iPhone is that Verizon customers who currently may want the iPhone but are hesitant about switching to embattled carrier AT&T may deem it good enough to keep them there. Accordingly, if the iPhone wants to grow share in the US it must get out from under AT&T exclusivity within a year. If it does not it will be surrounded by “good enough” substitutes such as Droid. 

Droid will actually be competing much more directly with the BlackBerry Storm 2 and Window Mobile devices at Verizon. In fact, Android the platform is much more directly a competitor for Windows Mobile than it is the iPhone. It’s positioned very much the same way in the market. 

Every major US carrier will soon have an Android phone or phones plural. Nobody will be switching carriers to get one accordingly. But as consumers upgrade they will be comparing offerings within their carriers’ handset selections. At every major carrier Windows Mobile and Android will go head to head. And right now (pre Windows Mobile 7) Microsoft’s smartphone OS is quite vulnerable it appears, given the mixed reviews of 6.5.

Andorid’s Droid (and its many cousins) are really potentially “WinMo killers.” That’s the real story as I see it.


Update: The Boy Genius Report has a quick “hands on” review and says that it’s the best Android handset to date, making the other Motorola Android handset (The Cliq) “look like a child’s toy.” Previously the HTC Hero was the best of the Android handsets in the US market. I just played with one for the first time yesterday.

As I said above the Droid will now compete with the iPhone so much as with other Verizon handsets, such as the Storm 2 and a range of HTC Windows Mobile phones. Some level of demand will depend on pricing obviously. But no Android phone (with carrier subsidy) will be more than $200.