Droid: Motorola's Savior Or Google's False Profit?

Too much, as least so early, is being made of the Motorola Droid's supposedly magical powers. Can a single handset "save" Motorola, launch a new operating system, and smite the evil Steve Jobs?

By David Coursey
Fri, October 30, 2009

PC World — Too much, as least so early, is being made of the Motorola Droid's supposedly magical powers. Can a single handset "save" Motorola, launch a new operating system, and smite the evil Steve Jobs?

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It is tempting to compare the Droid to the previous magic handset, the Palm Pre, which was supposed to save Palm, launch s new operating system, and smite the evil Steve Jobs.

The Palm Pre met none of those lofty expectations and has faded almost into insignificance. The Pre, however, lacks the Droid's Google-Motorola-Verizon pedigree. Which either gives it triple magic powers or three cooks to spoil the broth. (Read our review of the Palm Pre).

Today it's the former--three great tastes that taste great together. But, that is tricky to manage and can certainly become bitter over time.

Here's my take on what is really going on in the Droid's new world order:

1. The Droid appears to be a very nice piece of hardware (read our review) and does more to send consumers' hearts pitter-pad than the Pre. It is the hardware that Google's Android needs to show itself to advantage. Of course, this is also a better Android than was available previously.

2. Android is a fine operating system, but it is wise to withhold judgment on the value of its "openness." It may not matter than a handset OS is "open" to any significant degree.

Or it may matter more than is apparent today. It will be up to the development community to prove that smartphones do not need to be managed with Steve Jobs' iron fist to be successful. (Read our Android 2.0 Primer).

3. One handset will not return Motorola's lost glory. The company is far too mired in failure and, frankly, even a hugely successful Droid will not see enough units to turn the battleship.

However, it does seem as though Motorola has managed to develop a high-end product that excites people, which is more than the company has been able to accomplish lately. Verdict: Motorola cautiously seems on the mend, which is nice to see. (Read about Motorola "surprise profit" announced yesterday).

4. The Droid clearly puts Verizon back into the prestige position among U.S. carriers. The rise of the iPhone allowed AT&T not to eclipse Verizon so much as to take the spotlight off the network as customers flocked to AT&T's not-so-great infrastructure to get a cool phone. Now, Verizon has both the phone and the network that people want. I wonder whether Verizon really wants the iPhone anymore? (Read our review of the iPhone 3GS).

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