Motorola Confirms European Droid Release, As Milestone

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Motorola confirmed Monday it would release its Droid phone as the Motorola Milestone in Italy and Germany, with more countries to follow.

Motorola is moving fast to ensure Droid, the first smartphone based on Google's Android 2.0 platform, has an international presence as Verizon and Motorola prepare to launch Droid in the U.S. this week.

Vodafone and O2 will be the Milestone's carriers in the confirmed European markets, although exact launch dates were not revealed.

Milestone has almost all of the same features as Droid, including the 3.7-inch touch screen, 5-megapixel camera and slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Two differences are that Milestone supports High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) instead of the U.S. Droid's EV-DO Rev A, and its memory card sports only 8 GB instead of the Droid's 16 GB.

"Milestone is a smartphone without compromise, delivering a wiser, richer Web and messaging experience. This is possible through the combination of Motorola's expertise in design and a truly differentiated Android experience," said Ralf Gerbershagen, vice president and general manager of Motorola Western Europe, in a statement.

Motorola's star appears to be rising on the back of Droid, whose launch details and specifications the company confirmed last week. It's a major advance for both Motorola and U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless, which to some observers have a serious iPhone challenger on their hands or, at the very least, enough buzz to compete in this fall's crowded smartphone marketplace.

Droid is Motorola's second Android-based phone after the Cliq and part of what Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha has said throughout 2009 is a new strategy by Motorola to stake its smartphone fortunes to Android. The company has plenty of reasons for optimism -- it turned a modest profit in its most recent quarterly results -- and is impressing analysts like Citigroup, which on Monday upgraded its rating of Motorola from "hold" to "buy" while downgrading both Palm and Research In Motion -- Motorola smartphone rivals -- to "sell."

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