It was only a couple weeks ago that Verizon announced its intentions to embrace the Android mobile OS. Now, details are trickling out about the Droid, the iPhone competitor built on Google's Android 2.0 OS as a team effort between Verizon and Motorola.
If there was any remaining doubt that the iPhone might be coming to Verizon soon, the Droid ad campaign that hit the airwaves this weekend should put an end to it. There may not have been any bad blood or hard feelings between Verizon and Apple before, but the Droid ads go for the iPhone jugular, specifically targeting the shortcomings of the popular smart phone.
[ Discover iPhone apps for business and IT pros the easy way: Use InfoWorld's business iPhone apps finder. | Get the InfoWorld editors' 28-page hands-on look at the new iPhone OS from the perspective of business and IT pros. ]
The Droid ads juxtapose Droid and iPhone similar to the way the 'I'm a Mac' ads illustrate the differences between Mac and PC. Now Apple is getting a little taste of its own marketing medicine, and it probably doesn't taste very good.
Based on what is known about the Droid at this point, the hardware and software are both compelling and could be the real iPhone-killer that the Blackberry Storm and Palm Pre failed to become. The iPhone-like 3.7 inch capacitive display (capable of 854 x 480 resolution) hides the thinnest physical slide-out QWERTY keyboard yet. The slim device includes GPS, Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi, and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The Droid also has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, flash, and video recording.
It seems impressive thus far. The device itself and the marketing campaign driving it both seem intriguing. Aside from enflaming the smart phone wars, the Droid also highlights the issues with device exclusivity for both mobile service providers and consumers.
T-Mobile may feel abandoned at the altar, so to speak. Today is the day that its newest Android smart phone hits the streets. The Cliq -- also developed by Motorola -- has gotten some accolades, but the rollout is being overshadowed by news of the Droid. It takes the wind out of T-Mobile's sails when Verizon has a much more compelling device coming soon which, like the Cliq, was designed in partnership with Motorola and Google.
From a consumer perspective, Droid envy exacerbates the debate about exclusivity agreements. When the iPhone came out I was in the right place at the right time because I was already an AT&T wireless customer. When the Palm Pre came out I was interested, but not enough to pay the early cancelation fee to switch from AT&T to Sprint. I would love to have the option of using the Droid, but again its not really worth the additional $175 for the cancelation fee and the hassle of switching providers and porting my number over.
I can understand the appeal for the mobile service provider. It gets a very enticing carrot with which to lure new customers and defectors from competing providers. I don't quite understand the motivation for the handset manufacturer. Analysts have predicted that Apple could double iPhone sales if it drops the AT&T exclusivity.
The FCC is investigating whether device exclusivity is unfair to consumers as a part of a series of inquiries it is conducting into wireless carrier and broadband Internet business practices. I'd like to see device exclusivity ended, but I am sure that decision won't come for years. I guess I'll have to admire the Droid from afar and settle on the HTC Pure.
Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com .