Motorola Droid X, Apple iPhone 4 Launches Show Contrast in Approaches

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-06-24

Motorola Droid X, Apple iPhone 4 Launches Show Contrast in Approaches

News Analysis: The unveiling of the Motorola Droid X June 23 reinforced the notion of devices built with Google's Android operating system as a team effort created by an ecosystem of partners possessed with making smartphones under the team concept.

Contrast that with the introduction of Apple's iPhone 4 June 7, just a few weeks before it went on sale to the public June 24.

This device was unveiled by none other than Apple CEO Steve Jobs, a fitting introduction for a phone forged by a man possessed with a passion for creating great consumer electronics devices.

Jobs tossed around superlative sentences such as, "This is beyond doubt one of the most precise, beautiful things we've ever made," and "I hope you love it just as much as we do."

The "we," of course, was and is, and always shall be, Apple. That's just the company's style: make the software, make the hardware, and wow the customer. Jobs could have also been using the royal we and few would have been surprised.

With 600,000 iPhone 4s on preorder and lines around corners across the world's Apple retailers today, no one can argue that what Apple has done with the iPhone 4 doesn't work. Though some fear the approach will one day bite Apple, so to speak.

Indeed, Apple's is not the model applied to smartphones based on Android. Top executives for Verizon Wireless, Motorola, Google and Adobe met in New York City to herald the July 15 coming of the Droid X, a 4.3-inch display smartphone born for multimedia consumption and video recording and playback in particular.

The Droid X, whose Android 2.1-based operating system will be upgraded over the air to Android 2.2 this summer, was the topic du jour but came with side orders of praise by the partners for the partners. 

John Stratton, executive vice president and CMO for Verizon, introduced "several of our distinguished colleagues from some of our important colleagues," including Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha, Google Vice President of Engineering Andy Rubin and Adobe President and CEO Shantanu Narayen.

"Each of these men and their businesses have been incredibly important to the development of the product that we're here to announce today," Stratton said.

He then noted Verizon's October strategic partnership with Google and the "importance of our respective initiatives to drive innovation in the mobile space."

Stratton then recognized Google CEO Eric Schmidt for bolstering the companies' partnership and invited him to speak.

Schmidt joined the group on stage and lauded partners for helping Google build out its cloud system for Android.

The Android Lovefest Contrasts Apples Singular Provider Position

He called out Verizon's No 1. wireless network, Motorola's large display to make the device attractive, the Android OS itself, and Adobe's Flash platform to enable programmers to build multimedia applications.

Jha and Narayen followed with similarly lavish praise for their partners. You get the idea; it was a lovefest. Those expecting attacks on Apple, the way Google VP of engineering Vic Gundotra attacked Apple and Jobs at Google I/O were sorely disappointed.

Only twice did executives hint at disdain for Apple. First, Jha hyped the Droid X's calling capabilities, which come courtesy of diversified antennas, three microphones and Verizon's network.

"The reason they carry their device with them is because they like actually receiving and making calls and having conversations where both people actually understand each other," Jha said, prompting laughter from the audience.

This was a glancing shot at Apple's focus on other features for iPhone 4 and AT&T's sometimes unreliable network.

Stratton promised Verizon's $29.99 unlimited smartphone data plan meant unlimited from the first day of the month to the last. This was an allusion to AT&T's new tiered pricing that coaxed some irate users into filing lawsuits versus Apple and AT&T.

What's the point, you say? Surely it is only natural for the Android event to be conducted with partners patting each other on the back, a stark contrast to Apple's Jobs wowing the crowd like a singular wizard.

It is. There is a feeling in the industry that Jobs' approach is arrogant and proprietary, whereas Google's Schmidt, Rubin and their partners at Verizon, Motorola, HTC and Adobe present themselves as humble worshippers at the temple of open source.

In short, Apple's approach is the one iPhone to rule them all approach while Google's Android is the loving federation of robot-themed devices built to serve humanity.

Perhaps both perceptions are the current reality. But the bottom line is, this is a business. Jobs would trade sales for friends and partners any day.

This why Apple is still beginning to kick the tail out of the U.S. smartphone business. And this is why Android, although a success in its own right for shipping 160,000 devices per day, is still leagues behind the iPhone in devices sold.

God help Android when Apple gets on Verizon.

What is that saying? Nice guys finish last. Perhaps it's time for Android and its merry followers to toughen up. Any suggestions?  

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