One million Droid mobile phone sales are on the horizon and the challenge now for Motorola and Verizon is to ensure that the Droid's momentum continues into the new year.
The marketing's been great and the reviews have been solid, so what Droid needs now is to continue to create the type of consumer and developer presences that will keep it a serious competitor to Apple's iPhone. As the initial buzz on Droid wears off, both presences will become dramatically more difficult.
Here are three big challenges for Droid in early 2010:
1. Sales momentum.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Sue pegged Droid sales through the Thanksgiving holiday at between 600,000 and 800,000, well on track for one million Droids sold by the end of the year. Sue's research note, quoted by GigaOM and other news sites, indicated Motorola could reach the 1 million mark thanks to Verizon's roughly $100 million marketing campaign.
One million sold since its early November launch isn't exactly Apple territory, seeing as Apple's iPhone 3GS moved one million units in its first weekend. But Droid's done a lot better than some of the year's other much-discussed iPhone competitors, including the Palm Pre, whose first-month sales most analysts projected at around 300,000. When the holiday season tapers off and the winter sales freeze sets in, will the Droid still have enough juice to stay top-of-mind for consumers?
2. Backlash and new competition.
A hot debut in any market -- let alone the hyper-competitive, hugely fickle smartphone marketplace -- means inevitable backlash. For the Droid, it's already started. Take blogger Dave Winer, whose burgeoning Droidie blog's nicest comment about the phone is that it "sucks less than the iPhone."
A hot debut also means that initial buzz is just that: initial. How long before another new Android-based phone -- maybe one developed and branded by Google itself -- comes along to swipe Droid's spotlight before it's even gotten comfortable?
3. App store presence.
Creating an app marketplace to conquer Apple's mighty App Store is more a challenge for Google than for Motorola or Verizon. But the faster Google gets its Android Market house in order, the better app growth will be for all of the fall's hot smartphones that run Android.
For starters, there are a number of versions of Google Android, including 2.0, which Droid runs. Many of the 12,000-or-so Google Android apps seen in the Android Market aren't compatible with all of them, or even more than one version. That may not be too much of a hindrance for consumers, but if Google is serious about attracting top talent in the app community, it'll need a clear and decisive platform that's an obvious home run.
In other words, the pros don't show up unless they expect an app development platform that's definitely worth their while. If the pros don't show up, Google Android app development never graduates to the big leagues. If Google Android app development never graduates, the top Android phones, like Droid, don't become app-lover paradises like iPhone.
Leave a comment in the ChannelWeb Connect community and tell us what you think the Droid's biggest challenges are for 2010.