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Verizon late last week issued a direct challenge to the iPhone with the launch of its advertising campaign for the Motorola Droid, the carrier's first smartphone based on Google's open source Android platform. The first ad for the device popped up on Oct. 17 and highlighted some of the iPhone's shortcomings, such as its lack of a non-touchscreen keyboard, its 3.2 megapixel camera, its inability to run simultaneous applications and its closed platform. The ad claims that for everything the iPhone doesn't do, "Droid does."
Although Verizon has not released many specific details about the Droid smartphone, it has revealed that it will run on the Android 2.0 mobile platform, will have a five-megapixel camera and will give users the ability to multitask and shuffle through their applications similar to how the Palm Pre lets users quickly change the applications they run without closing any of them down. Verizon also says that the device is due to be released sometime in November.
The Boy Genius Report, which got access to the device before its official release, says it has a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard; runs Texas Instruments' OMAP3430 processor; and is "the most impressive phone we've used since the iPhone."BGR also says that the Droid is the thinnest phone featuring a slide-out QWERTY that it has ever seen, as the Droid is only slightly thicker than the iPhone. Blogging over at Computer World, Seth Weintraub adds to BGR's report by noting from Federal Communications Commission filings that the Droid has a display screen that is 854x480 pixels.
The impending release of the Droid comes just under a month after Verizon and Google entered into an agreement to jointly develop wireless devices based on the Android mobile platform. Verizon said at the time that it planned to have two Android-based handsets on the market by year-end with more to come by 2010.
Once the Droid is released next month, Verizon will have become the third major U.S. wireless carrier to support devices based on the Android operating system, as both Sprint and T-Mobile have also started putting Android devices on the market. The Android platform, which was developed by Google in 2007, is a Linux-based open platform for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and some key mobile applications. Google has been promoting the platform as a way to spur innovation in developing mobile applications that will give users the same experience surfing the Web on their phone as they currently have on their desktop computers.
Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.