Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Erica Naone

Is This the Droid You're Looking For?

Verizon’s Droid will combine Google’s OS with a great network.

  • October 19, 2009

Buzz exploded this weekend over Verizon’s entry into the smartphone wars, the Droid. Expected to go on the market in November, the phone boasts some impressive features, including a five-megapixel camera, and version 2.0 of Google’s Android operating system (more images here).

Most attention so far has focused on Verizon’s potshots against Apple’s iPhone. Ads for the Droid criticize the iPhone’s batteries (which the user can’t easily change), the lack of open development, and the inability to run simultaneous apps. Some have noted that average users probably aren’t going to understand or care about many of these points, and I agree.

But if Verizon doesn’t botch the launch of this new phone with its incomprehensible ad campaign, I think it could lead to the first real test of what a smartphone can do. The iPhone has already changed users’ behavior and vastly increased expectations. AT&T’s network, however, has been creaking under the strain. T-Mobile has made a real effort to get out ahead with Android support, but it also lacks the network to really draw users.

For a while, it’s seemed strange to me that Verizon could spend billions of dollars building up its network, even though it hadn’t yet launched a really exciting smartphone. By all accounts, the Droid looks like a strong entry, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens when a great device is backed by such a network.

If the Droid launch goes well for Verizon, it’ll give a big boost to Android. There are currently about 10,000 apps in the Android Market, compared with some 85,000 in the iPhone App Store. I think the Android Market is behind partly because there’s been no single device to serve as a flagship attracting developers (I don’t think T-Mobile’s G1 had enough cachet to serve in this role). With strong backing from Verizon, the Droid could give Android the recognizable and attractive face it needs to really take off.

Get stories like this before anyone else with First Look.

Subscribe today
Already a Premium subscriber? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Online Only.
  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.