You know that old saying about missing the forest for the trees? I think both Android optimists and pessimists might be doing just that by obsessing over early sales figures for Motorola's
The first two analyst estimates for sales of the DROID, released last Friday by Verizon
But while Cote's figure, if accurate, is welcome news for Motorola, whose money-losing phone division needs all the help it can get, it doesn't do much to change the big picture for Android and its attempts to unseat the iPhone as the platform du jour of the smartphone world. After all, Apple
Look beyond Verizon's hype, and you can see why it's unrealistic to expect the DROID to challenge the iPhone's supremacy on its own. The DROID just doesn't have the kind of "Wow!" factor that the original iPhone delivered in 2007. That device, with its multi-touch interface, innovative web browser, tilt sensor, "visual voice mail," and iTunes integration, was unlike any phone that had been made before. The DROID can't claim the same kind of "Wow!" factor, and that's probably why Verizon is emphasizing features that the iPhone doesn't have but that, in many cases, are available on other phones on the market.
Sure, it's great that the DROID, unlike the iPhone, has a physical keyboard, five-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and replaceable battery, but it's hard to see consumers fleeing the iPhone in droves when smartphones from Research In Motion
If Android is going to challenge the iPhone's supremacy long-term, it won't happen because of one great phone. It'll happen because of the groundswell of support that Android has generated among smartphone also-rans -- a group that features not only Motorola, but also Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, and HTC. And it'll happen because the spread of dozens of Android devices made by these companies will lead to a virtuous cycle of media hype, positive word-of-mouth, and third-party software development similar to what Apple has seen with the iPhone.
I still think Google and its hardware partners have an uphill battle ahead of them, given Apple's current lead in both consumer loyalty/enthusiasm and available apps. But it's still early in the game, and Android might have time to catch up. Just don't try to decide upon a winner based on next week's DROID sales.