Motorola Droid X Braces for Launch Amid Apple's iPhone 4 Woes

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-06-20

Motorola Droid X Braces for Launch Amid Apple's iPhone 4 Woes

As Apple and AT&T juggle system crashes, redundant charges and mixed-up shipments for the iPhone 4, rivals in the Android camp are girding for another widely-anticipated launch.

Motorola, Verizon Wireless and Google are preparing to unveil the Motorola Droid X smartphone in New York City June 23. That's one day before Apple is releasing its iPhone 4 available to the public.

In taking an unprecedented 600,000 preorders, the iPhone 4 has been delayed for those who pre-ordered it until July 14, which is closer to the time Verizon is expected to launch its Droid X device.

Verizon is touting the Droid X on its Website, promising the 4.3-inch display device will shoot 720p and offer HDMI output for high-definition video play. This will counter the iPhone 4's HD video and 720p capabilities.

Engadget said the smartphone will run Google's Android 2.1 operating system (even as the much-improved Android 2.2 preps to launch with tethering, WiFi hotspot and cloud API) and feature a FWVGA 854 x 480-resolution screen to accompany the large display.

About that large display: the Droid X would seem to follow in the footsteps of the HTC Evo 4Gand HTC HD2, which also sport 4.3-inch screens. Is the industry trending to larger screen smartphones? Not necessarily when you consider the new iPhone 4 will have the standard 3.5-inch display.

Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin said the trend is simply toward "greater diversity in smartphone form factors, some with big screens, some with keyboards, some at the low end to lure in those with messaging phones."

Gartner Research's Ken Dulaney agreed: "I suspect the vendors will move along these two vectors going forward with minimum screen size at the low end at 3.5 inches. Anything outside these boundaries won't do well."

Sounds like the iPhone 4 and the Evo 4G/Droid X display sizes represent the South and North Pole of the smartphone industry.

iPhone 4 Issues Wont Send Consumers to Android

Altimeter Group's Michael Gartenberg said that w the 4.3-inch display is great for typing (especially for large fingers) and consuming info on the Web, devices with this size display tend to use a lot of power. Moreover, they won't fit comfortably in everyone's pocket.

"There's always going to be tradeoffs but as you get to a high-end screen size, you're pushing the form factor of what fits in the pocket. You get to a 5-inch screen and it's already too large," Gartenberg told eWEEK.

"I don't think we're going to see a whole lot of devices that move in the space because you're pushing the boundaries of what's practical for a phone, getting into near tablet dimensions."

It is unclear when the Droid X will become available on the market, but the likelihood for a summer launch to keep up with the iPhone 4, even with its delays, seems high.

Engadget puts July 19 as the Droid X touchdown date, making it available only 5 days after the latest deadline for the iPhone 4 to hit the street.

Will the iPhone 4 release disaster drive iPhone fans to the Droid X? Not likely, say analysts. The party lines are established: you're either in the iPhone camp or the Android camp.

"I don't think Apple availability issues will impact demand for this at all," Golvin told eWEEK."People who want a new iPhone will continue to want one irrespective of demand/availability."

Golvin added that the Droid X is for existing Verizon customers and those interested in switching to their network from a competitor. That could mean the iPhone, too, right?

"I'm not sure the [iPhone 4] delay matters in the long run," Gartenberg chimed in. "600,000 in preorders is unprecedented and that's not counting the lines there will be, people camping. Apple isn't slowing down because of these issues."

What the iPhone has done, is shed more light on Android as a player in the smartphone space. The fact that the media is focusing on the iPhone versus Android battle lines has raised awareness of the Android platform.

"The competition between both id making the devices popular," Gartenberg agreed, adding that there is enough demand for smartphones to go around. "One doesn't have to obliterate the other to be competitive in this space.

Of course, Verizon's $100 million marketing campaign for the Motorola Droid and HTC Droid Incredible set the stage for a massive Droid X or even Droid 2 roll out next week and into the summer.


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