Motorola and Verizon Wireless on Wednesday unveiled the Droid, a smartphone that will test whether the companies can use software from Google to chip away at the dominance of Apple's iPhone.
CHICAGO — Motorola and Verizon Wireless on Wednesday unveiled the Droid, a smartphone that will test whether the companies can use software from Google to chip away at the dominance of Apple’s iPhone.
The Droid, a svelte slider with a full keyboard and an expansive touch screen, will be available at Verizon Wireless on Nov. 6 for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate. Customers have to sign up for a two-year contract and data plan.
Success of the new phone, which is being launched in a competitive holiday season, is crucial for Motorola, where co-Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Jha has placed a heavy bet on Android to turn around the company’s mobile-devices business.
The Droid is the first phone with Android 2.0, the newest version of Google’s operating platform, and is also Verizon Wireless’ first Android device. The carrier announced a partnership with Google this month, pledging to codevelop phones and other gadgets using Android software.
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Like Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market offers thousands of applications that can customize a phone to perform functions such as search for reviews of local businesses, download podcasts and connect with social networks.
“What this phone does is it gives us the answer to what customers want in an open platform,” said Marni Walden, Verizon Wireless’ president of the Midwest area.
Motorola conceived of the Droid and brought the design to Verizon Wireless about a year ago, when Jha was making the rounds at carriers to bolster the phone maker’s turnaround strategy, said Melissa Gardner, Motorola’s vice president of product marketing.
Walden said Verizon Wireless’ belief in the new phone’s potential was a driving factor in the company’s decision to embrace Android.
“Everyone believed it was the right operating system,” Walden said. “There was an executive-level belief at all three companies that the customer experience had to be the best.”
According to Motorola and Verizon Wireless, the Droid’s screen has twice the resolution of the iPhone and is large enough so users can look at a full Web page without needing to pan back and forth.
The Droid comes with a 5-megapixel camera and flash so it can take photos at night, one feature that Verizon Wireless is touting as another advantage over the iPhone.
Iqbal Arshad, vice president and general manager of the product innovation group in Motorola’s mobile-devices business, said the company developed a special power-management chip that makes the phone more efficient in its battery use.
The chip can sense light levels and adjust the display as necessary and can tweak processing speeds depending on what the phone is doing.
“Right from the get-go, all three companies wanted to push the envelope,” Arshad said. “Everyone came in with a pretty open mind and decided to create a really compelling product.”