Verizon promises biggest ever marketing splash for Motorola Droid

by Caroline Gabriel, Rethink Wireless

At last the will-they-won’t-they saga of Verizon Wireless’ first Android smartphone launch is over, having almost reached the frustration levels of the similarly protracted Sprint/Palm Pre launch process.

The Motorola handset – indeed called the Droid, despite last minute speculation that this would in fact be a generic name for all the carrier’s Google phones – was officially unveiled yesterday and will go on sale on November 6.??Like most high end handsets of this type, the phone will cost $199 with a two-year contract and after $100 rebate, and can be pre-ordered now.

Most of its features are already well documented but it is notable for being the first commercially available handset to run the new ‘grown-up’ Android 2.0 OS (pipping HTC and Sony Ericsson to the post) and it shows Motorola returning to a theme that once made its fortune – super slimness. With boasts reminiscent of the once iconic RAZR, the firm said repeatedly that the Droid was the slimmest ever handset to come with a slide-out Qwerty keyboard, allowing for physical keys without the usual trade-off of bulkiness.?

Jointly presented by Verizon Wireless’ CMO John Stratton and Motorola’s co-CEO Sanjay Jha, the Droid was called a “no-fuss, hi-tech, location aware, voice recognizing, over-the-air updating, multitasking machine”. Features include a 3.7-inch, 480 x 854 capacitive touchscreen display, EV-DO Rev A, Wi-Fi, GPS, D1 video playback, stereo Bluetooth, 3.5mm headset jack, Flash 10-ready HTML browser, 5-megapixel autofocus camera with dual-LED flash, 16Gb of storage space and MicroSD card support.??

Notably, the phone integrates Google’s new free navigation app, which was only officially announced yesterday, and which threatens the business of paid-for mapping and location aware services such as those of TomTom’s Tele Atlas and Nokia’s Navteq. If the main theme of the first Motorola Android device, the Cliq/Dext, was social networking, the higher end Droid majors on location as well as voice activated search. This would enable the phone to be a replacement for specialized portable navigation devices (PNDs), said officials (there is an accessory for mounting the gadget in a car, allowing the phone to recognize the fact it is in auto mode automatically.)?

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