Until Motorola came out with the Droid, they were the forgotten cell phone company, but it wasn't that long ago that everyone wanted one of their phones: the Razr. This was in 2004, in the days before the iPhone when smart phones were found only in the pockets of executives and sales people. The Razr was thin and sleek and it flipped open in a very cool way. But after that, Motorola all but disappeared -- until now.
It's clear that Motorola recognized this was an opportunity and they have seized it, building a great feature-filled phone running Google's Android phone OS, but will it be enough to bring this company back from the dead in the cell phone market?
Hands-on with the Droid
I like to get my hands on a phone and see how it feels, so I took a pilgrimage to my local Best Buy yesterday where I encountered a sales person who was as enthusiastic as I am about gadgets. I asked her about the Droid and with a gleam in her eye she removed one from her pocket and handed it to me. I was immediately struck by its weight. This is one solid phone (maybe too heavy for some), one which should survive a fall. As I pushed open the keyboard, I was impressed with the large keys (for a cell phone). I played with the controls. I oohed at the 5 Megapixel camera. It was nice.
She showed me some video that she took with Droid in-store and it was amazingly clear. She pointed out that the one draw-back was it was such high-quality, it created large files and she needed to connect it a computer to share it. To get to the memory card, you need to pull off the battery case, not the most convenient method in the world, but it didn't detract from my overall positive feelings about this phone.
Not Perfect By Any Means
When I tweeted about my experience (alright I was gushing), some of my followers pointed out short-comings. People actually didn't like that keyboard, I suspect because the keys are flat, making it hard to type by feel. Another person pointed out a strange bug with the camera and the fact it's not a multi-band phone. These are real issues for consumers, but people appear to be still buying this phone.
Sales Are Decent
The Wall Street Journal reports that analysts are estimating first week sales of around 250,000 units. This is pure speculation, however, because Verizon wasn't saying. Compare this with the iPhone 3Gs, which sold 1.6 million units in its first week and it doesn't look as good, but as the article points this was a US-only release and the iPhone was an established product.
Bottom line, this is a nice phone and Motorola should be proud. Whether it will be enough to help them return to respectability in the cell phone game remains to be seen, but this is a great start and it's something to build on.