Google CEO Eric Schmidt said on the search engine company's earnings call last week that Android was about to take off.
Time will tell on that score, but if it doesn't happen it won't be for lack of trying. Less than two weeks after promising to sell smartphones, netbooks and other devices based on Google's Android mobile operating system, Verizon Wireless kicked off a television ad touting its Motorola Droid phone and shredding Apple's iPhone in the process.
Shown on Fox and CBS in between the action of NFL football games Sunday afternoon, the 32-second clip blitzes the iPhone for what it doesn't have, including a keyboard, 5-megapixel camera, and the ability to run simultaneous apps, widgets and even take pictures in the dark. It also knocks the iPhone for not being open and allowing developers to customize apps for it, ending the ad by noting, "Everything iDon't, Droid Does."
The ad campaign would be devastating, if only Apple hadn't already sold more than 50 million iPhones and iPod Touch devices under the aegis of exclusive iPhone carrier AT&T. Even so, the ad reminds everyone that Verizon Wireless and Google are at full war with AT&T and Apple. Verizon Wireless also launched a dedicated Website Droid here.
Verizon Wireless will begin selling the Droid on Oct. 30, as far as anyone can tell. Boy Genius tested a Droid, has pictures of it here, and said the device is blazingly fast, running Version 2.0 of Android.
It's thin, metal and comes with a non-spring-assisted slide, with soft-touch plastic, but has easily the best screen of any Android handset to date, including the T-Mobile Android G1, T-Mobile myTouch 3G, Sprint HTC Hero and the half dozen other Android phones. Boy Genius wrote:
""Have we mentioned this phone flies? It's the Android device to beat, and easily the most impressive. From what we've been told, Google had a direct hand in the Motorola Droid. Something to the point of almost dictating every move Motorola made when designing and making the phone. Interesting, huh? ... No one wants to listen, but it makes the [Motorola's Android-based] CLIQ looks like a child's toy (partly because it is, and partly because the Droid, even in its non-final form, is the most impressive phone we've used since the iPhone. It's positively amazing).""
That's the kind of gushing that will make Google and its Android partners smile, savoring a coup over iPhone, provided people buy the Droid when it comes out. In any event, Android is on the rise.
Today, Android is available on nine devices across 26 countries on 32 carriers. Dell even said it will sell an Android-based phone on AT&T's network, and Sprint is working with Samsung to deliver its second Android-based phone. Android devices should be available on all four major carrier networks in the United States in 2010. This is exactly the kind of broad adoption Google was hoping for when it unveiled Android almost two years ago in November.
Jefferies Research analyst Youssef Squali said in an Oct. 8 research note that such traction will be a boon to Google's mobile applications, noting that Google's location-based services such as Local Search, Google Maps, Search by Voice and Latitude, as well as core apps such as Gmail, YouTube and others, should be readily monetizable over time:
""Such a trend should stimulate search volume and drive mobile page views, two crucial elements to Google's successful monetization strategy. We estimate that Google's worldwide gross search revenue in mobile will cross the $500 million mark in 2011, up from roughly $180 million in 2009.""
No wonder why Schmidt said Oct. 15 during the earnings call:
""Android adoption is literally about to explode. You have all the necessary conditions, you have the vendors, you have the distribution and so forth. This is a very critical period with all of everything being delivered.""
Will Schmidt's comments prove prescient?