Is The Motorola Droid About To Out-Apple Apple?


Motorola's much-anticipated Droid phone launches tomorrow, and Verizon and Motorola have pulled out all the stops to make sure Droid lands not with a whimper, but with a full-on, party-crashing bang.

Droid has the smartphone community's undivided attention at this point, and Motorola needs a home run. But it's also easy to forget that Verizon, for all its strength, still lacks a showpiece smartphone like AT&T has with iPhone, and both Motorola and Verizon are riding the popularity wave of Google's Android mobile OS.

So while it's Apple that gets all the credit for building the buzz, milking the buzz and then delivering on new product announcements -- look at the hoopla around every iPhone upgrade since the iPhone's 2007 launch -- it's Motorola and Droid that have finally stolen the smartphone spotlight away, even with so many more competitors trying to grab a piece -- any piece -- of it. Here's how they manipulated the Apple product launch playbook to great effect in four-steps.

1. Built the buzz.
Motorola and Verizon have already done the pre-launch legwork, and how. They built the buzz with an "iDon't" ad campaign that directly skewers Apple and iPhone. What's more, Verizon is putting its newfound legal conflict with AT&T over its separate "there's a map for that" ad in the spotlight.

2. Stole the spotlight.
Motorola stated its intentions early in the year to revamp its smartphone line around Google Android, and the timing of the launch -- that is, being able to launch with the critics' darling 2.0 version of Android -- couldn't be more helpful. Droid also managed to make irrelevant what was before one of the more pressing questions in the smartphone world: would a Verizon iPhone come to fruition? Right now, a Verizon iPhone doesn't seem to matter as much, does it? Neither does the big group of smartphones that are also being released this fall.

3. Prepped for launch, and looked ahead.
The Droid's international presence is already being established -- it will launch in several markets abroad as Milestone. Verizon has also confirmed that many of its stores on U.S. shores will open early on Friday, some at 7 a.m. (Think it'll have shortages?), and has scheduled a number of high-profile Droid launch events all over the country.

4. Twisted the knife.
Finally, Verizon has stuck a final needle in its Apple pin cushion just before launch: it has confirmed that data tethering is coming to Droid in 2010. Tethering won't be available at launch, but be sure it wasn't lost on Verizon executives that they're making the tethering point at the same time Apple iPhone users are still -- still -- waiting for iPhone tethering.

If the Motorola Droid craps out -- most, but not all initial reviews have been glowing -- the least that can be said of Motorola and Verizon is that they've gotten our attention.