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Summary:

Droid launched in November 2009 and has sold over 700,000 units. It is inching towards the million mark, thanks to a strong marketing push by its backers Motorola and Verizon. In comparison, Motorola’s Cliq & Dexter appear to be slow pokes when it comes to sales.

droid1.pngMotorola and Verizon’s $100 million marketing push seems to be paying off: The much-ballyhooed Droid smartphone made by Motorola and powered by Google’s Android 2.0 OS is inching toward its goal of a million devices sold during the fourth quarter of 2009. The two companies have thus far sold between 700,000 and 800,000 Droids, according to data collected by RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Sue.

Broadpoint AmTech analyst Mark McKechnie estimated a few weeks ago that Motorola was going to sell 600,000 Droids. Looks like we have gone well past those estimates. McKechnie expected Motorola to sell about a million Android-based phones during the quarter.  Demand for Droid might be stronger than previously indicated, Sue’s numbers show.

With a month to go, it is more than likely that Motorola will meet its targets, Sue said in a note to his clients, mostly because of strong demand. “According to our survey, some higher-traffic Verizon stores in major cities may be selling over 100-200 Droid units per week since the launch,” he said. “The bulk of Motorola’s smartphones this quarter will be at Verizon.”

Droid has received good reviews, though lately some dissatisfied customers have started to speak out against the smartphone. I personally am lukewarm on the device, even though I am amazed by its super-fast multi-app processor, stunning screen and, of course, the Verizon network, which is rock-solid. Nevertheless, I much prefer the BlackBerry Tour over Droid.

droid2.pngMotorola is expected to sell about 1.5 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2009, which means the company’s other Android devices — Milestone (the European version of Droid), Motorola Cliq and Dext — are not selling as well as Droid. That’s no surprise since there isn’t a big marketing push to support these devices.

  1. Considering the previous “iPhone killers” these are remarkable numbers. I am not going to play armchair pundit on what this means about the iPhone and Droid. But as a fan of Apple I am happy there is finally good competition to the iPhone. I do not believe the droid will trounce the iPhone but I hope that it wakes Apple up to spur them to innovate faster than they have in the past.

    For disclosure: I am buying a Droid in the next few weeks.

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  2. @Om,

    I’m honestly not surprised by these results as competition is always great for consumers. I still remain convinced that strong numbers (not saying 1 million units per quarter) could have been achieved for the Palm Pre, but neither Sprint nor Palm put a STRONG and dedicated marketing campaign behind the Pre. In fact, Sprint’s “Now Network” campaign with Pre product shots is simply terrible, and the least effective way to generate product awareness and demand.

    Kudos to Motorola, Verizon, and Google for raising the bar in the smartphone market.

    My $.02,

    Best.

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    1. Curtis – I agree on the Palm/Sprint analogy – that crossed my mind as I was reading Om’s post. Palm had the marketing buzz up but wasted it away once the launch date was known for the Pre and Sprint did not do much else to assist.

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      1. Curtis and HSK,

        Funny thing is consumers still like the Palm Pre and they still can stage a comeback — they need to plan smarter.

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      2. Verizon also put a lid on Pre sales by repeatedly stating that the phone might come to Verizon next year. We will see if they will spend any marketing money on the Pre in 2010…

        On the other hand, I found O2’s marketing for the Pre in Europe solid, both the Pixi and the Pre received promotional discounts by Amazon and Walmart and at least on Amazon, the Pre is currently outselling the Droid. Palm will present their figures in a few weeks (their fiscal quarter ended in November).

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    2. Curtis

      Totally agree with you: Verizon and Motorola have done well to cash in on their strong buzz and kept the momentum by spending lavishly to build market share. In the end it bodes well for the two companies — they are in an impossible position as they vie for attention against Apple’s iPhone, which is currently a consumer darling. I just want to see how long they can keep the momentum.

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      1. Om,

        I concur 100%. I’ll add that I hope some of the smartphones which are due over the next 2 quarters challenge the iPhone, Droid, and the Pre. Maybe we’ll get you off of your BlackBerry? ;-)

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  3. Impressive but I wonder what is the payback on $100 million advertising campaign.

    If they sell 1 million droids at $200 each that is $200 million of immediate revenue and then we figure another $150 per month for two years per phone then that is another $3.6 Billion.

    How do all these numbers play out?

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  4. Great to see the Droid doing well
    What IMO are some reasons for the success

    • Verizon users badly needed a high end smartphone.
    • Motorola is still a respectable consumer brand
    • Great marketing strategy by the trio of Moto, Verizon and Google
    • Consumers love Google and Android too.
    • The most important reason is the Brilliant Timing of the launch when all other handset makers and carriers don’t have a new handset to showcase and are playing it safe due to the economy.

    http://www.fonearena.com/blog/2009/12/01/motorola-on-target-to-sell-1-million-droid-phones.html

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  5. Wow. A million devices. It took Apple almost a weekend to sell that many iPhone 3GSs (they would have sold more in the first weekend, but they ran out).

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    1. Funny :-)

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    2. You iPhanbois crack me up. You insist on comparing a phone that sold in 8 countries and on multiple carriers to this phone which sold in 1 country on only 1 carrier. Why all the dumb comments and ridiculous comparisons if this phone isn’t a threat to your small world? A closer comparison would be the original iPhone which sold 1 million units in the first 10 weeks it was available.

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      1. Rob
        There is nothing that’s stopping droid to enter multiple markets and enable multiple carriers. And for starters, it was Droid that compared itself to the iPhone. If Droid itself doesn’t expand its market, then it is IT’S problem and not of iPhone or its fans. Get a life.

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      2. Please remember that the original iPhone is the device that started the revolution and woke up the industry. Since the Palm 180g days up until 2007 there was nothing that compelling, I was on one phone to the next with no real future. 2 years later the iPhone platform has a good start. Much like a computer upgrade my original iPhone is running OS X v3.0 is happily serving my Mom who loves it. She’s not ultra technical so doesn’t need the speed or GPS. Hopefully Droid is a true platform an not just a place holder until Google releases their rumored gphone running the “true” Android platform. Deadend products are being fed to consumers. Will they eventually realize? Who knows, but the iPhone is a platform built from the ground up to go places with new hardware and software and not just a single issue device of say a G1 or a Droid. Can the G1 be upgraded to Android V2.0? Will Droid have upgrades to the rumored “true” Android platform? Time will tell but the iPhone is here today and has a compelling strategy. While not perfect, change is always around the corner, like the jump from pusihing web apps to an actual iPhone SDK.

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      3. Not that Rob, the Other Rob Friday, December 4, 2009

        Google has repeatedly said the “gPhone” is non-existent. The Droid is what is the “true” Android OS software, so spare us the FUD.

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      4. The Droid aka Milestone is available worldwide, but not promoted by the carriers. Did you read the article?

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  6. Amazing numbers. $100 per customer spent on advertising. I suspect they think it was money well spent as these are the “green shoots” from which they hope to grow a much larger market.

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  7. The Droid is a decent device but…

    • Will the Verizon network hold up once millions of users are downloading gigs a day on 3G? People take shots at ATT, but the iPhone data consumption is unlike any network has ever seen. It remains to be seen how Verizon will hold up to this type of usage pattern
    • The physical keyboard on the Droid is next to useless. The main reason people complain about the iPhone “virtual” keyboard is its lack of tacktile feedback. People used to the “chicklet” keys on the blackberry don’t like it. The Droid keyboard is totally flat and offers no “chicklet” feel, so I don’t see it being that big of a hit. All it does it double the thickness of the device.
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    1. Search “4g verizon” for an answer to you first question.
      I agree about the keyboard, especialy the inability to keep the backlight on.

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      1. Kwyjibo, I don’t think a smartphone can run on press releases… Verizon’s has promised full 4G coverage by 2013, but that’s still far away and doesn’t tell us anything about the capacity of the 3G network today or next year.

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  8. When I got my Droid my girlfriend would yell at me that I’ve been on “that thing” all day. Yesterday, she got her own. When she starting playing around with it she turned to me with her face lit up “It’s amaaaaaaazing”. I’ve never seen such a look on her face before. I feel so vindicated.

    Motorola designed a really crappy phone. The keyboard is useless, and the device is too square. However, the screen, and the google operating system is truly amaaaaaaaaaaazing!

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  9. I checked out Droid over the weekend at a Verizon store. Verizon expects customers to pay an additional fee for visual voicemail. Did not inspire me to be a Verizon customer.

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    1. Use google voice and u have free visual voice mail, along with free calls, and text your google number which i made to almost be identical to my regular one!

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  10. Hasn’t Motorola shot itself in the foot a bit by doing exclusivity deals in Europe? For example, Expansys has an exclusive selling the phone without a contract until after Christmas and it carries a big premium (£450). Who made that decision!?

    You do get the option of a contract, when purchasing, but no choice means fewer sales.

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  11. This is hardly surprising. Say what you will versus the iPhone, but the DROID is the best smart phone that Verizon has yet offered. I think, due to that alone, there’s been pent-up demand. Once you get used to Verizon’s coverage (particularly the fact it’s 100% 3G, versus about 20% on AT&T and, well, just plain sketchy coverage on those other two), it’s difficult to consider AT&T for anything.

    Then, at least for the geeks in the crowd, there’s the big issue with Apple’s application censorship, the lack of the ability to customize, etc. There’s enough there to keep me away from the iPhone.

    The interesting things is that both of these factors ruled out iPhones for me, even without having to consider the hardware. And both of those… the nature of Verizon, and the nature of the Android OS, were just as positive as the negatives on the iPhone. I had pretty much been waiting the last year, since my Treo died, for Verizon to offer some kind of Android phone.

    But the DROID completely rocks. Sure, some rough edges so far… a few bugs, a few mis/missing features, etc. But keep in mind, the iPhone had to get its first major software upgrade before it was even officially a smartphone (eg, capable of running 3rd party apps). That was just 2008… some pundits speak of the iPhone as if it’s been around forever.

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  12. And really, the whole concept of “iPhone Killer” is incorrect. That’s really thinking in Apple terms — that the thing to take down the iPhone will be another single phone.

    It won’t be. Android itself is the iPhone killer, if folks must use that term. Not that the iPhone will be killed, but if you’re looking for the smart phone platform that will dominate, Android is pretty close to already being a foregone conclusion. Look at Dell… they struck a deal with China Mobile to push a Dell-made Android phone out to some of their 500-million customers… Apple’s still trying to put together a deal with the #3 carrier in China. Android is on three our of four of the US carriers, and AT&T won’t hold out long. It’s in Europe, India, South America, etc.

    And the phone makers themselves are behind it. Every cell phone manufacturer except Apple, RIM, and Palm are doing something with Android (Nokia hasn’t annouced a phone yet, but they are working on a cellular internet tablet running Android). Motorola has 350 people working on Android. HTC has it on half of their phones, not just the “iPhone killer” class. Sony’s about to deliver… so are other CE companies like Panasonic, and I already mentioned Dell… and they’re not the only computer company jumping in.

    As in the PC biz, Apple will wind up one proprietary solution among hundreds running “the standard”.

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    1. Terrific analysis, HD. Couldn’t agree with you more on both the overall functionality success of the Droid (especially for a first iteration) and your identification of the Android OS as the true iPhone killer. Really nicely put. I don’t think Apple stands a chance against true multinat companies like Google and Motorola now that its OS has lost the competitive advantage.

      One question for you: how do you see the Android’s lack of secured Activesync support affecting corporate sales? Without secured support, it seems like a non-starter. A shame, because I know corporate IT techs and users alike were geeks about the Droid.

      TIA,

      sev.

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      1. geeks=geeked.

        Clearly I’m too old to be attempting slang anymore.

        sev.

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  13. I own an IPhone, and I have had no less than 20 phones over the last 4 years with Verizon. (I have a large business account…and I have some AWESOME reps with Verizon that feed my need.) I told the gang at Verizon that I’m done…this is the phone. I’ve NEVER posted on this site (or any site) about a phone before, but this phone made me want to defend it!!! This is by far my favorite. Sure it has a few easily fixable quirks, but overall it’s nearly flawless for me! I love my IPhone, but the signal stinks (big surprise!) – and honestly, who has time to surf 100,000 apps? The apps that count are in the Android Store, and with the GMail tie ins…I’ve found my phone home. (insert E.T. joke here).

    Oh, and for the record, I don’t think you can compare it to the IPhone…or call it an IPhone killer…very similar product, but this phone is in a category of it’s own. Sorry to be so clique, but it’s been a looong time since I’ve been so satisfied with a cell/smart phone.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if it hit 1.25 million by the end of the year…I’ve already set three employees and my Mom up with one! (Wife and Kids are converting next week)… with the techno ads, they should’ve borrowed from Star Trek… “Droid – Resistance is Futile”.

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  14. I had been a very unhappy iPOS user from August 2008 – September 2009, having swapped out the 3G model five times because of poor battery life (they each worked fine for about two months then it fell flat in just a couple hours of use, even though the usage model never really changed), ever slower responsiveness and more dropped calls than I’ve ever experienced with any phone or carrier. I had more dropped calls in the first two days of owning the thing than I probably had in the previous two years with a Treo on T-Mobile’s network. The answers from AT&T & Apple were far from satisfying; ‘We’re still building out our network and you can expect to get dropped calls while that happens?’. ‘Hmmm, how long should I wait, until my contract expires and go somewhere else?’. Another good one was ‘just turn off 3G while we’re building out our network.’ And someone is going to call me and tell me when it’s ‘safe’ to turn 3G back on? How many millions in advertising were spent to lure suckers like me into it? Does Apple have any sense for the business customer that actually wants a reliable phone (as I’ve seen some others point out)? It doesn’t seem to, it seems much more content to talk about how great it is to play MP3’s, watch video’s and download some of the ‘100,000+ applications’ that are worthless (how many fart applications does one need?) than it is to talk about it being a reliable phone and business communication tool with calendaring and contacts. In a way I’m happy my iPOS was stolen off me a couple months ago but sad I didn’t have it to sell and have the money to pay off the termination liability to AT&T when I switches to Verizon for the Motorola Droid.

    Droid Does? It ‘Does’ most everything for me. Sure, it would be nice to have simultaneous voice and data like I have on the iPOS, but I’m much happier that I’m always in network coverage and have never dropped a call in the 3+ weeks I’ve had it than the number of dropped calls I would have had on the iPOS. The battery life has been good on the Droid. Sure, it’s flat by or before the end of the day but on some of my iPOS’s I had they were draining faster than they were charging (and yes, I did ‘reset to factory defaults’ and reconfigure several times over to remove the problems that just seemed to crop up on the thing). I like the fact that the Android OS will allow me to move to another piece of handset hardware in the future and not have to start all over in setup of it, just point it to my Google contacts. Verizon clearly has a much better understanding of the business consumer. I liked (not) the fact that the iPOS was the only phone AT&T wouldn’t let you buy insurance on. Isn’t that nice of Apple that they then get to sell another phone at the full price! It also never sat well with me that the idiots at the ‘Genius Bar’ would ask you ‘how often do you turn off your phone?’, meaning ‘our OS is nice and buggy with lots of memory leaks that need to be drained by a reboot even though we tell the world how wonderful it is’. The Droid has seemed to have slowed a little over the days between complete battery discharge / recharge cycles, but nowhere near the rate of the iPOS.

    All in all, I like the Droid, and for a first release (OK, it’s V2.0 overall) on the Motorola hardware, it’s a long ways ahead of the stability of the iPOS at the year and a half point on the market it was when I was hoodwinked into buying into it.

    Dave

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  15. Motorola could do 1.8 million Droids and 2.25 million Android phones in Q4-09

    http://wblg319.blogspot.com/2009/12/motorola-18-million-droids-and-225.html

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