Motorola Droid sizzles in the US but fizzles in the UK
07 Nov, 2009 @ 10:40 am BST | By Charles Smith
London - Motorola Droid made a spectacular debut in the US market, Friday, with long queues of shoppers reportedly forming in front of Motorola and Verizon stores though the same could not be said for the UK market.
In the UK, leading wireless carrier O2 said it decided not to stock Motorola Droid after it conducted earlier tests on the device while its German partner T-Mobile said it has no current plans of offering the device.
Orange, the third largest wireless carrier in the UK did not confirm whether they would be selling the Droid but did confirm that they are already selling the Motorola Dext, which has become a big hit already.
Bigger rival Vodafone did not officially confirm whether they would be selling the most-awaited device from the Motorola stable but a Vodafone official, on condition of anonymity, said the company has decided not to sell the device at the moment.
Now, this is bad news for Motorola as the company has been betting big on the Droid for lifting its sales in the UK.
Currently, the UK mobile phone market is dominated by O2, which controls 27 percent of the market, followed by Vodafone with 25 percent, Orange with 22 percent and T-Mobile with 15 percent. The 'Big Four' of the UK control nearly 90 percent of the wireless market in the UK and if all of them decide not to stock on the Droid, Motorola can wave its dreams of turning its fortunes around goodbye.
But is the Droid all that bad?
If Motorola's ad blitz "Everything iDon't, Droid Does" is to be believed, the Droid is a far superior device than the market leader iPhone and any other smartphone in the market.
And, why not? The Droid is vastly superior to previous Android-based phones like G1, myTouch and most recently, the Cliq, which lacked in three key areas: hardware, user interface, and network power.
Droid runs on Google's latest mobile platform Android 2.0 (hence Droid, duh) and the phone, which is slightly thicker than iPhone, is powered by the super-fast ARM Cortex A8 TI OMAP3430 processor (the core of both iPhone and Palm Pre), boasts of a huge 3.7-inch capacitive multitouch WVGA display (with 854x480 pixel resolution), has a slider Qwerty keyboard in landscape mode (the Droid promises precise, quick typing), 5-megapixel camera with autofocus, 4x digital zoom, LED flash, night-shot capability and video recorder (at 720x480 pixel @ 24fps), supports multi-touch gestures (allows you to flick and swirl your fingers across the screen for intuitive navigation. It also allows you to scroll and flip through web pages, photos, spreadsheets and more), EV-DO, 512MB storage, 256MB RAM, microSD/microSDH card slot (a 16GB microSD ships with the phone but up to 32GB can be supported), supports multiple audio and video formats, GPS, USB, Bluetooth 2.0, WiFi, a 3-axis accelerometer (a crucial sensor that take advantage of tilting - and allows great gaming and use of the phone in landscape mode) and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The Droid also reportedly rivals the latest iPhone 3GS in web page loading speeds, syncs your Facebook contacts and has a better email interface than the iPhone (it lets you flag multiple emails as read or unread).
The Droid also has an improved browser and Microsoft Exchange compatibility is reportedly built-in.
The smartphone also boasts of speech recognition capabilities, advanced multitasking capabilities and interchangeable batteries that has enough juice to power the smartphone up to 6.4 hours (talk time) and 270 hours (standby time).
The Droid also supports Google Voice that lets you route calls more efficiently, control who can contact you, and transcribe messages, unlike the iPhone.
Also, thanks to the latest Android platform, the Droid also boasts of more intuitive and polished user interface than other Droid-based smartphones and it gives you access to the Android Market where thousands of apps are available for download for free or a small cost.
But the most exciting feature of Droid, perhaps, is the Google maps app that are replete with text-to-speech features, layered with traffic data and a satellite (3D) view and comes with built-in turn-by-turn, voice-guided navigation. And the best part is that it's all free! In fact, the free turn-by-turn navigation, analysts claim, will make the Droid more compelling in the smartphone market and pose a major challenge to the Portable Navigation Device (PND) industry.
No wonder, most analysts are raving over the Droid. According to Tina Teng, senior analyst (wireless communications), iSuppli, the Droid is a "game changer for Motorola and has capitalized on the trend toward smartphone widgets, which allow users to customize products according to their own personality.
However, despite all these rich features, the Droid is not the perfect smartphone in the market.
In fact, the Droid has its own fair share of niggles. For example, the Droid reportedly does not support zoom in and zoom out gestures (i.e. no pinching - you need to double tap to zoom in and zoom out). Droid also reportedly will not come installed with Flash 10 (though Droid promises the "greatest web experience on the phone" and it has been designed to support Flash 10).
Also one must not forget that Google has not entirely addressed the range of bugs and fixes that have dogged Android.
Other letdowns include its bulkiness (Droid's heavy - it measures 2.4x4.6x0.5 inches and weighs 6 oz - and not quite pocket-sized), its poor battery life (compared to its peers) and its hard-to-type keyboard (Droid's keys are flat and shallow and difficult to muster). However, it may be noted that Droid also offers virtual keyboard (which, however, is fantastically responsive with very little input error).
In other words, the Droid needs outstanding hardware, great apps and a hot app store and a solid network to make it rival the iPhone and appeal to the people. Brilliant marketing is a good start but not enough.
Also it is doubtful whether one handset is sufficient to restore Motorola's lost glory. In fact, the Droid alone cannot guarantee smooth sailing for the company. The company is far too mired in failure and, frankly, even a hugely successful Droid will not be enough to plug the hole in the sinking battleship. Motorola enjoyed success with its popular Razr phone launched in 2005 but has been losing ground since to Apple and Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, as well as to other major cell phone manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.
However, like a great football player who has lost his magic touch and is only two matches away from getting it back, I think Motorola is a device or two away from establishing itself as a formidable smartphone maker.
This article is copyrighted by International Business Times.