The Droid X smartphone is selling like hotcakes, and Verizon Wireless and Motorola are doing their best to keep it that way. The two companies' speedy response to an issue with the Droid X display contrasts with Apple's handling of the iPhone 4 antenna issue.
Motorola's Droid X, the latest Google Android smartphone, launched last Thursday, and some early buyers have reported flickering and the appearance of vertical bands on the device's display. On Wednesday, Verizon and Motorola jointly acknowledged the problem and said it only affected "a very small number" of Droid X units.
Most importantly, the companies clearly indicated that the problem had been fixed. "Motorola has resolved the issue and is continuing to ship the phones. Any consumer who experiences a flickering or banding display should contact Motorola customer support center or Verizon Wireless," a Verizon spokesperson said in an email statement.
Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder, got his Droid X on launch day and immediately updated the device's firmware. Although he didn't encounter any screen flickering or banding, Kretzer is impressed with how Motorola and Verizon addressed the problem.
"I’m very happy that they did come up with a patch as soon as an issue was discovered," Kretzer said. "That’s a far more responsible approach than Steve Jobs’ original response [to the iPhone 4 antenna issues] of 'Just don't hold it that way.'"
Last month when iPhone 4 customers began reporting the "death grip" issue, which causes calls to drop when the phone is held a certain way, Apple refused to admit it was a design flaw. Instead, the company said attenuation affects all mobile devices to some extent, and its advice to customers was to either avoid gripping it in the lower left corner or use a protective case.
Only when Apple's stock price started dropping and Consumer Reports pulled its recommendation of the iPhone 4 did Apple react in a more decisive way. At Apple's press conference last week, the company offered to give free protective cases to customers and refunds to customers who wanted them, but there was still an air of reluctance around the proceedings.
The Droid X's main problem thus far has been supply: The device was widely hyped and appears to have fulfilled its promise. That's great news for Motorola, which desperately needs a "home run" type of device to get back into the smartphone discussion.
The cynical view holds that Motorola is hungry and needs to do whatever it takes to satisfy customers, while Apple is decidedly less hungry and can afford to have a take it or leave it attitude. Or, perhaps Motorola and Verizon are just operating under the old fashioned assumption that when customers are complaining about something, it's a good idea to do something about it quickly.