“I Know I Missed the iPhone, but Now I’m Taking my ‘Droid and Going Home!”

"Yeah I know I missed the iPhone, but LOOK, I got the 'Droids you're looking for!"
"Yeah I know I missed the iPhone, but LOOK, I got the 'Droids you're looking for!"

Yesterday I was watching football when I started to see a really good commercial, talking about everything the iPhone ISN’T.  I was sitting there saying, hey, all that stuff sounds like Android!  Then at the end of the commercial, I see droiddoes.com.  I then think about the whole advertisement, and after seeing it is from Verizon wireless, realize the commercial has a desperate feel to it.

It is a well known fact that CEO Ivan of Verizon turned down the now famous iPhone device, for reasons that no one seems to be able to pin down. But certainly this decision points to the fact that Verizon’s business model is based on nickel and dime’ing their customers from everything surrounding email to GPS navigation.  Apple wasn’t willing to allow Verizon to have that kind of control.

So here we have Verizon launching a campaign that smacks all over of Apple, and frankly I find myself pretty ticked off, and feeling like Verizon is VERY late to the Android party–but acting like they are the best carrier to happen to the platform since it launched.  I see this as a desperate play to patch over their HUGE mistake by passing on the iPhone. More specifically, I feel like CEO Ivan is covering his tail because HE was the one to torpedo the deal.

Upfront, I have a real problem with Verizon as a company. As I mentioned above, they literally kill their customers with fees for functionality on their handsets.  I had Verizon as a wireless carrier for a long time, until I finally got wise to what they were doing to limit the things that were built into my Motorola Q device.  The Q was a great business phone for me, but I found myself lost one day when I was going to visit a member of my group.  I knew my phone had GPS so I tried to get turn by turn directions.  When I went to turn the service on, it dialed my phone into Verizon, where a rep said I had to pay an extra $5.99 a month to use navigation and the GPS functionality that was BUILT INTO MY PHONE.  Upon further investigation when I got back to my office, I found that Verizon had disabled the GPS in my phone, and it could only be turned on by paying for their extra service.  This was part of their smartphone tier of pricing, you can get one of their smartphones, and you can get a data plan with it, but if you want the extra features, they make you pay for each.  This turned me off immediately, why are there hidden fees for functions that my phone came with, and why were they not disclosed to me at the time of purchase?

Because of the above experience, I am anxious to see what they are going to do with the Android platform that I love. Here they have an open platform with which they can develop for how they want, and I see this as a playground for a company that operates the way Verizon does.  The last thing that I want to see are Verizon users handcuffed where the rest of us can enjoy the platform as it was meant to be: free for all to use and develop and mold into something that the user base can really get excited about.

Verizon is looking to make Android their iPhone, but they were only willing to take this risk after they saw that Android is a real player in the market.  I understand that this is good business, but I think it is poor idealism, and a lack of creativity and dedication to making the end-user experience something amazing.  I see it as a market grab to allow them to get back into the smartphone market that has passed them by without looking back.

Android is going to thrive with or without Verizon, I know, but what is next for CEO Ivan?  Keynote addresses in a black mock turtleneck talking about how Verizon is an innovator on the Android Platform?  I hope not.

  • david

    While I do agree with you, sorry to sorry rude, WHO ARE YOU…???? Might give folks a link or something…why should they listen to you, without having to search around to find out WHY you should be listen too…Wise person or crack-pot, kind of wondering…Perception….

    • Hi there David, I am a new contributing writer here, you can look at my name in the contributing writer column and see my other work here. Thanks for reading!

  • Excellent post, couldnt of put it any better myself.

  • hazydave

    He's right about Verizon, at least in the past. I had a RAZR some years ago, and was amazed to see all of the functionality Verizon had taken out of that phone… a friend of mine had the same phone from AT&T, so I was fully aware. They killed Bluetooth object exchange (literally… the first release of the firmware had OBEX, they nixed it later), so there was no easy sync to a PC… you had to pay to transfer photos. They wouldn't even let the phone… a phone with a built-in USB jack… charge from any old USB device. Nope, you had to use an "authorized" Verizon charger.

    This policy has pretty much left Verizon behind the rest of the carriers in the smartphone world. What do they have, some Blackberries (only interesting to those who require that specific slice of business support, not on par with iPhone, Android, or what Palm/Treo used to be), and a couple of end-of-life Palms and WinCE phones. They NEED something done in the modern way, and Android is the obvious choice.

    And Android's actually what makes me trust that Verizon really means it about being open on this one, for two reasons. One is the first unit, the Droid (Motorola) is a "Google Experience" phone. This means they're contractually obligated to keep it fully open, at least in Google's sense of the word "open".. they can't pull any of that old stuff. Second is the reality of open source… if they did lock it down, they still have to publish the source code. Someone would work around the lockdown.

    I think this article's correct, too, on the notion that Verizon is a bit remorseful about the iPod, losing all that potential business. It's questionable just how much of the "Verizon rejected iPod" story is true… would they really have launched a CDMA phone first, ignoring the rest of the world? But either way, it's obvious AT&T has done well here. They can too, if they don't screw this up.. and it'll be pretty clear, pretty early on, if they've really changed their stripes or not.

    After all, it wasn't that long ago they were pushing some of these fake LG smartphones… they run "apps", if by "app" you mean a program you have to rent from Verizon, for $5-$10 a month. Each. People hate being nickel and dimed, but they really hate being sawbucked to death.

  • Not sure who Ivan is (perhaps you're referring to Ivan the Terrible?) but Verizon's CEO is Lowell McAdam, and on October 6th he said something very uncharacteristic of Verizon: "You either have an open device or not. This will be open." The Android community hasn't been bashful about holding companies' feet to the fire when they claim allegiance to openness and do otherwise, and I'm sure that Verizon's foray into the land of Android and openness will be no exception. There will certainly be plenty of scrutiny from bloggers like you and me to close that loop!

    • Adam

      Ivan Seidenberg is Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications. Lowell McAdams is CEO of Verizon Wireless.

      Verizon Communications only holds a 55% share of Verizon Wireless.

    • I am glad that we are there to do this, I for one will remain skeptical about Verizon truly keeping things open, I really hope they do! It will be better for their business in the long run.

  • Eric

    While what you say in the beginning is true, you obviously have not been doing any leg work to find out what Verizon is doing with Android, other than watching commercials. Like the first respondent “who are you?”, the majority of people who browse these articles are going to be armed with more knowledge about the product than you. This lessens the credibility of your argument. First, Verizon and Google are official partners now. That was in the news a month or so ago. An intimate relationship formed to better the advancement of all things Android. Google is not partnered with any other carrier. What’s funny and totally makes you look out of touch is that a main part of your OP is about GPS. Again, if you did any research at all before you shared your opinion, you would now that Google Maps Navigation (GPS turn by turn) is available free of charge on the Motorola Droid. Verizon’s paid GPS service is not even an option. Another thing is that GPS has been unlocked on Verizon’s PDA’s for awhile now. The Blackberries do it. Just a word of advice, people like to read editorials (I guess that is what this is) but this article feels more in place in the middle of a flame war in the comment section of some other more thoughtfully authored article. I’m just saying.

    • Eric,

      Thanks for your feedback, I will certainly keep it in mind in my future articles. I appreciate your readership and time.

  • Steven

    Ray, no wonder you're just a blogger and not a real journalist. Excellent job piecing together what little information you have with your own personal bias to publish a really bad article.

    • Thank you for your feedback Steven, I appreciate the time you took. This piece was an Opinion piece, so it certainly was slanted towards my opinion.

      Thanks again for reading.

  • I respect your right to your opinion, Ray, but numerous other articles have already pointed to the fact that Verizon isn't crippling da Droid in any fashion (except for maybe pricing their plans high 🙂 ). Another thing to remember is the value of the Verizon network, which I will be switching to next Friday due in no small part to the spottiness of T-Mobile where I live. Droid is the new flagship, and Android can use all the carrier participation it can get. The rest of the smartphone industry isn't just resting on it's laurels, so I welcome whole-heartedly the DroidDoes campaign. It's about time somebody acknowledged the killer internals that make their shiny devices work.

    • Perhaps I am a bit of a cynic, but it's a thing that is "believe it when I see it" in regards to Verizon not crippling android. I really hope that they don't. I switched from them to T-Mo, and have been happier that is for sure, but if they do keep Android intact, they will certainly return to the smartphone game. Thanks for your readership and time!

  • jakob peters

    Lowell McAdam is the verizon wireless CEO, dude.

    Yes, Droid is a huge departure from anything VZW has gotten behind in the past. As would have been iPhone. It was confirmed by VZW sources last year that yes, Apple and VZW could not reach an agreement that was win-win and so original iPhone was passed upon. Since then, VZW has gotten nothing but crap for smartphones. The best offering has been the Samsung Omnia, which is kind of hard to use but packed the most power and best browsing platform.

    I think about Droid and I think about how much I loved putting apps and customizations on my Moto Q. Then I think about how much I love all my apps on the iPhone. Soon, all those incredible functionalities will be ported to Android 2.0 as the platform takes off in popularity. I can't wait to switch, because I am a hardcore Google user. Chrome browser works better and is better thought out for the end user than anything out there. GMail and GTalk make it electronic communication simple and efficient, allowing me to access the same connections from any platform. Android 2.0 is going to have full cloud syncing to the Google account. All of this to be excited about, along with the full turn by turn nav for free, backed by the reliability of Google, without even having to compete with Apple on the apps variety front. That will come. It took 2 years for Apple to safely claim dominance in that realm. I think the open-source environment will grow faster and easier than Apple's bureaucracy-laden closed system.

  • Steve C

    I have managed to avoid Verizon for mostly the reasons Ray pointed out. After years of being a Sprint customer, I switched to T-Mobile and the G1 because I got tired of waiting for Sprint to come out with any real decent phones. As mentioned by a previous poster, T-Mobile's network is indeed spotty and the few times I left town I had trouble getting a signal and this was in San Diego for heaven's sake. Also, I have been less than pleased with the G1's initial bugs and and battery life.

    I will be looking closely at the new Droid and Verizon but I will not make the jump if I feel like I'm going to be nickle and dimed to death. I want the phone's native features working and left alone by the carrier.

  • jonathan

    thats why i like sprint so much,i had sprint for 5 years without a problem with customer care nor with call quality,there network is up there with verizon except they dont have as much coverage, but thats why they have roaming with evdo for. with roaming it gets to use verizons network at sprints pricing when sprint network isnt accessed. but realize that sprint is just as good and better especially with the prices and phones! right now wal-mart has a prepaid phone that runs off verizons network with an unlimited plan for about 45$ the only thing bad thing is the phone selection they have.

  • TareX

    How dofficult was it Motorola, to design an aesthetically attractive device? The Droid will never be an iPhone, especially with that name which fits its looks….

    Too bad because on the inside it's a gem.

  • LarryMcJ

    The part I disagree with is "Verizon is looking to make the Droid their iPhone". B.S. They know they'll never get a chance to make anything "their iPhone"…but that said, as a very happy VZW customer for 10 years I tried the iPhone and absolutely loved it (we all know why I didn't switch to AT&T, though). I'll take my Droid and be happy that it's even a meager substitute for the iPhone. In fact, since I live 100% in the Google cloud…I just might be very happy with the iPhone wannabe, as might millions of others. Time will tell.

    • Larry, thanks for your comment, I am going to have to disagree with you here. Verizon missed a big opportunity with the iPhone, they have taken tremendous flak for turning it down, and have to be seeing that the decision they made affected their bottom line in a big way. So, now they have a direct competitor in Google's Android, they have put a MAJOR marketing campaign behind the fact that they are partnering with Google, and that Android has some great options that the iPhone does not have.

      Where in this do you see them NOT making Android their iPhone? They waited till Android had an established customer base, waited until people really started to see the advantages to having a "cloud" phone, then decided to jump on board to combat the fact that they have not released a handset worth rushing out and waiting in line for in quite some time.

      No, I do not think it is B.S. at all. Now, perhaps you misunderstood me. I do not think that they are trying to make a Verizon Android Handset behave like an iPhone, rather, I think that they are looking to droid to save their collective butts, and to erase the fact that they passed up on a device that literally revolutionized the mobile industry.

      Now, that being said, I think you will be VERY happy with your Android handset when you get it from Verizon, my fear is that they will be looking to monetize the platform by locking you out of options that are built into the handsets that you receive from them. They have said they won't, but again, I will believe it when I see it. I would hate to see our brethren who are Verizon customers be forced to pay a subscription to use things that we on other carriers do not have to.

      Thanks for your comments and your time, we appreciate them very much.

  • Rob L

    You are also completely missing the fact that Verizon won the C Block portion of the FCC's 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction which will require them to open (that portion of) their network to any device or software so in the long run they have not just a business motivation to push open access but a legal obligation to support it themselves.

    As the other comments have noted, do some research next time.

  • Droid503

    Sorry for your previous experiences, and I understand the 'believe it when I see it mentality'. However, there has yet to be any indication from any source that has published a review, hands-on, overview, preview, that Verizon has locked down the Droid. I would think that if the phone was locked down, that might be a pretty juicy news item, probably making its way around the nets pretty quickly.

    Also, as an admitted Android lover, you should be ecstatic that the nations largest carrier in terms of subscriber base is jumping in and offering the Droid, and presumably several more solid Android based phones by the end of the year. Verizon may not be the ones innovating the platform per se, but offering Andorid as an option to 89 million subscribers shouldn't hurt the platform, or developers feelings either.

  • I think people need to realize that a) this is an opinion piece and b) a quick thought from the writer about his initial reaction to the news, not necessarily meant as a hard-core journalistic expose or anything.

    That being said, in my opinion; it is frustrating to see Verizon sit by for a year to see if Android was going to make it and then jump in like they are the clearing the path. No, the path was cleared by T-mobile a year ago. At the same time, it is great that Verizon is spending some money and getting Android out there and more than T-Mobile has. I don't plan on switching from T-Mobile for whatever phone might come along, but in the long run, the more Android users on any carrier benefits us all.

  • I hope at one day you wil get your i-phone best of luck for this .Now you enjoy this phone .Thanks for sharing this detail .

  • tac

    for what it's worth, I have a droid phone now and it is open; I can browse wherever, access GPS, connect to corporate mail, etc. Verizon appears to have kept their promise.

  • I need this kind of phone which is completely business phone and you give me very nice and detailed information this one it is really very useful information for me .I will plan to buy this phone in coming days

  • great story, i left my iphone for a spica.. 🙂

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