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Verizon Wireless, just days after announcing a far-reaching deal with Google to collaborate on Android smartphones and services (GigaOM Pro, sub. req’d), over the weekend put up a web site touting what it’s positioning as an iPhone slayer: the Droid phone. It was buttressed by a TV ad, which puts the Droid’s launch date in November. Indeed, the trifecta of Google, Verizon and Motorola means this device will have heavy-duty, pointed marketing behind it. But will that be enough to give the iPhone a run for its money?
Specifications for the Droid phone were laid out on the web site. It will have:
- Android 2.0, a significant overhaul of the open-source operating system, with user interface improvements including the advanced use of widgets
- A 5-megapixel camera
- Speech recognition capabilities
- Advanced multitasking
- A full QWERTY keyboard
- Interchangeable batteries
It may also run the TI OMAP3430, according to The Washington Post, the core of both the iPhone and the Palm Pre. Most existing Android phones run the slower Qualcomm 528MHz ARM11.
It’s easy to see from the marketing spin being put on the Droid that it’s very directly aimed at competing with the iPhone. Both the site and the TV ad are peppered with a series of swipes at the Apple device, including “iDon’t have a keyboard,” “iDon’t have interchangeable batteries,” iDon’t run simultaneous apps,” and “iDon’t allow open development.”
Let’s not forget the enormity of the iPhone’s momentum, though. Apple said this afternoon that it sold 7.4 million iPhones in its most recent fiscal quarter, 7 percent more than the same three-month period a year earlier and 43 percent more on a sequential basis. To win against the iPhone, the Droid phone needs:
- Outstanding hardware
- Great apps, and a hot app store
- A solid network
- Brilliant marketing
The Droid phone is already getting an exceptionally rare level of marketing for an open source-based device. As we’ve noted numerous times over on the open source-focused OStatic blog, many open source platforms, including Linux (which Android is based on) suffer from lack of marketing. That’s often the case because open-source platforms become forked and fragmented, and no well-funded single entity puts marketing dollars behind them. As Joe Brockmeier, community manager for Novell’s OpenSUSE Linux and noted open source pundit, noted in a post last year:
“If you took the marketing budgets of all the Linux vendors combined, and then doubled that figure, and then added a zero, you might start approaching what Microsoft spends on marketing Windows. Maybe.”
So all the marketing may give Droid some oomph compared to other open-source launches. Whether it can convince smartphone buyers to forgo an iPhone, however, remains to be seen.