Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Droid

Accompanied by an expensive ad campaign, the Droid has hit the market. It's a step up in the continuing market migration to smartphones and products available for consumer purchase. But it's not an "iPhone killer" and any effort to position it that way will lead to disappointment and may actually be a disservice to the product and works against its consumer adoption.

In my view Verizon is miffed. The company's primary competitor, AT&T, is taking market share via of the iPhone. The problem Verizon has created for itself is positioning the Droid in its ads to compete directly with the iPhone. A better approach would be to release the Droid based on its merits as another smartphone option for consumers.

Verizon does not have a lock on the Android smartphone market and will be competing with other smartphone service providers offering similar fare. The loser in the market isn't Apple and the iPhone, it's first Microsoft and the Windows Mobile platform and to a lesser extent RIM and the BlackBerry line of products. Apple is gaining ground on RIM and Windows Mobile is losing share by the minute.

Android 2.0 offers a compelling list of features. For consumers choosing to remain tethered to Verizon as a primary determiner in choosing a new smartphone, the Droid with Android 2.0 may be an attractive choice. But I don't think it will materially slow defections from Verizon to AT&T this quarter by consumers interested in the iPhone.

I think Verizon has made a huge marketing mistake in choosing to position the Droid in direct competition to the iPhone. It would be more effective in my view to position the Droid for everything it is, not what it isn't. The direct comparison has done little more than alert consumers the iPhone isn't coming to Verizon anytime soon. The ad campaign is as apt to sell more iPhones for AT&T as it is to sell Droids to existing Verizon customers.

Android 2.0 will be available on a number of handsets offered by multiple service providers. Price competition is inevitable. Verizon at this point is doing nothing to position the Droid effectively in what will be a highly competitive environment between carriers offering similarly featured phones. There's less wrong with all of the coming Android-based phones than there is in the way Verizon is positioning the Droid.

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