Verizon Reveals Motorola Droid


New York - Verizon Wireless's first Android-based smartphone, the Droid by Motorola, will go on sale Nov. 6 backed by the largest marketing campaign in the carrier's history, Verizon executive VP/CMO John Stratton announced.

The Droid, the first Android-based smartphone using the new 2.0 version of the Android OS, will be available through all Verizon direct and indirect channels at $199 after $100 mail-in rebate with two-year contract and $29.99/month 3G data plan. The name Droid, licensed from Lucasfilm, will refer to an entire series of Android-based Verizon-network devices, the first of which is Motorola's.


Although the carrier has promised a second Android phone this year, it did not say when the second device would come or who would manufacture it.

The Droid, Motorola's second Android device announced to date, is equipped with 3.7-inch WVGA touchscreen and slide-from-the-side QWERTY keyboard. Its Android 2.0 OS, said Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha, enables a "dramatic evolution" in the user experience, including faster loading and operation of applications. The 2.0 OS also supports a WVGA display, a more refined voice search and Google's new turn-by-turn driving application, which provides spoken street names.

The navigation app, called Google Maps Navigation, uses a hybrid navigation technology that downloads a route's maps and driving directions on demand from the cloud for local storage. Unlike traditional carrier-based navigation services, the app continues to provide route guidance even if the cellular signal is lost. The navigation service is included in the price of a subscriber's data plan. When the Droid is dropped into an optional car dock, it automatically goes into navigation mode.


Motorola touts the phone as the industry's thinnest smartphone with slide-out full-QWERTY keyboard at 0.54 inches. It's also the first Android phone with WVGA display, and it incorporates a beefier processor than Motorola's first Android phone, the T-Mobile Cliq, so its speed clocks in at up to 600MHz, said Jha.

Other features include the ability to run up to six applications at once, DVD-quality video capture, Wi-Fi, 5-megapixel camera/camcorder, desktop-like rendering of Web pages, integrated search to simultaneously search the Web and phone-based content, a unified email inbox that displays emails from multiple email services, Microsoft Exchange support, and Verizon's visual voicemail. Like all Android phones, it's capable of downloading more than 10,000 apps and hundreds of Web-based widgets from the Android Market.

The phone "can stand up and compete" with Apple's iPhone, Stratton said in response to questions during a press event here.

To promote the device, Verizon plans a Nov. 6 launch of a "Droid Does" promotion campaign that will include TV, radio, print, web ads, integrated marketing and "experiential" events, Stratton told TWICE. The campaign will be targeted to 15- to 35-year-olds who are heavy messaging and social-network users, heavy Web browsers and otherwise "highly engaged" with their mobile device, he said.

Although some might say Verizon is taking a risk in entering the Android market with a phone from a manufacturer whose market share has plummeted, Stratton disagreed. "This is a new Motorola," he said. The company has a "very clear focus and understanding of what's needed."

Although advertising will target heavy messaging and social-network users, the Droid is also enterprise-grade, Motorola's Jha noted.

"This is a Google-experience device," Jha also said, pointing to the absence of Motorola's new Motoblur service. The service, available on Motorola's first Android phone, T-Mobile's Cliq, streams email, messages and social-network updates in real time to one or more widgets on the device's home screen. In the future, however, Verizon will support Motoblur on other Android devices, Stratton said.

Also because the Droid delivers a Google experience, the phone lacks Verzion's VZ Navigator navigation service. The phone does, however, offer other Verizon services but does not offer Verizon's VCast video services or Verzion's over-the-air music-download service. The phone offers Amazon's music-download service, also available on other Android phones. Verizon will add more of its services in the future as it re-engineers its apps for the Android platform, Stratton said.

Other supported Google services include Google Maps, Gmail, and Google Street View, which can be used in conjunction with Google's navigation service.

Droid works in U.S. 800/1,900Hz CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A networks. It doesn't include 2.1GHz-band GSM/EDGE or HSDPA technology to operate in overseas 2.5G or 3G networks. An optional desktop dock turns the Droid into a multimedia station that acts as an alarm clock, movie player and digital picture frame.


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