The stars may be aligned for the Droid X to prove a big success for Motorola and Verizon Wireless.
The Android-running smartphone arrived on the Verizon network July 15, greeted by lines of customers outside of Verizon retail locations, some of which opened at midnight for the occasion. The phone arrives as Google’s open-source Android OS is riding high, enjoying strong approval ratings from consumers, as evidenced by the sales that greeted the Motorola Droid and HTC Evo 4G.
Verizon customers also warmly received the Droid Incredible, which the carrier is having a hard time keeping in stock, mostly due to shortages in the supply chain-a problem that Sprint is likewise facing with the Evo 4G. With these two well-reviewed Android competitors temporarily out of the running, impatient consumers may simply turn to the Droid X. And when they do, Verizon says it’s prepared.
“While we are currently experiencing delays on orders of one of our more popular phones, we view that as an anomaly driven by a combination of supply and popularity,” Brenda Raney, a spokesperson for Verizon, told Cnet.com. “At present, we feel that we have done everything possible to ensure we have inventory to meet customer needs around the Droid X.”
Also likely to help the Droid X is Apple’s newly, if temporarily, besmirched brand, following antenna problems that customers have experienced with the new iPhone 4. The company has been criticized for being slow to address the antenna problem-which has also led to two class-action lawsuits from iPhone 4 owners and prevented Consumer Reports from labeling it a “recommended” device.
While one analyst told eWEEK that “the Apple brand remains gold-plated,” others see Apple as stumbling at time when it needs to appeal to consumers beyond its established fan base to support future sales growth. Analyst Ken Hyers, with Technology Business Research, noted the strong critical and consumer response to the more powerful Android handsets and told eWEEK that “consumers not wedded to the Apple experience are giving them a look.”
Gleacher & Company analyst Mark McKechnie is also expecting Motorola to fare well, both with the Droid X and its overall investment in Android.
“We have an upward bias to our 2.5 million and 3.4 million unit forecast for [the second and third quarters of 2010, respectively],” he wrote in a July 15 note to investors. This is driven, he continued, “by 1. increased Droid demand due to Verizon Wireless marketing and HTC Incredible shortages, 2. the Droid X launch to Verizon Wireless on July 15, and 3. a continued ramp into China.”
McKechnie added that the firm believes that Motorola’s sales of Android units in 2010 will trend toward the upper end of it guidance, of 12 million to 14 million handsets.
Of course, the Motorola Droid X may also prove successful on its own. Priced at $199 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate, it features a 4.3-inch display, an 8-megapixel camera and a 1GHz processor, and it is upgradable to Android 2.2 and can be used as a mobile hot spot for up to five other devices.
In an ad in The New York Times, Verizon pointed out still another feature-while not missing an opportunity to pair it with a jab at the iPhone 4. “Most importantly, it comes with a double antenna design,” Verizon noted of the Droid X. “The kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like … to make crystal clear calls.”