Verizon launches Droid to few lines, but much excitement

Verizon Wireless launches its first two Android phones this morning, and though the launch was not greeted with the same crowds and lines that accompanied previous iPhone launches, customers said they were excited about the devices, especially the Motorola Droid.

The carrier, which also launched the HTC Droid Eris, has made no secret in its marketing campaign that it intends for the Motorola Droid to compete with Apple's iPhone, which is offered exclusively through AT&T Mobility. Customers said that they thought the Droid was the first phone Verizon had launched that could truly compete with the iPhone, which has been a key growth driver for AT&T.

More than 100 people lined up at a Verizon store in Manhattan at midnight launch event, according to CNET, but lines were sparse at other locations this morning, including in Denver and Washington, D.C. Verizon customers in Washington said they were glad they had a phone that could compete with the iPhone.

Michael Maiorana, Verizon's regional president for Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Virginia, said the launch of the Android phones would help Verizon attract customers who want an iconic phone. "This Google phone, I think, will help catapult Verizon into a niche market that ... we haven't necessarily had a leading contender in," he told FierceWireless.

Without mentioning the iPhone by name, he said that there were existing Verizon customers who continually ask when the carrier is getting the iPhone, and say they do not want to switch from Verizon but want a different kind of smartphone. He also said there were subscribers on other networks that might want to switch to Verizon but are attached to their other devices.

"I think over the years the wireless device has become more of a primary reason why customers procure services," he said. "It's very iconic, the device. I think in many cases it's a status symbol."

Webster Brehm, 26, from Washington, D.C., said he has been a Verizon customer for eight years and was excited to get the Motorola Droid. "I think this is the first phone they've had that's attractive and has all of the capabilities that people are looking for that are like the iPhone, like with Google's apps," he said. "They don't have as many as Apple does right now, but I think that's going to change. As people come to Verizon and buy these phones, I think the popularity is going to increase, and they're going to be releasing a lot more."

Jeff Robins, 30, from Falls Church, Va., said he was buying the Motorola Droid and had read a lot about the phone on blogs and Internet forums.

"I think it has the opportunity compete. I don't know if it's like the iPhone killer that some people want it to be," he said. "But it's the only phone Verizon has that can really handle most of the capabilities, some of them not quite as well just yet from what I've read. But it has the opportunity to grow through the open development and the Android 2.0 platform, and that's the exciting thing."

For more:
- see these pictures
- see this CNET article
- see this Electronista article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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