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Motorola Droid, powered by Google's Android 2.0 OS

A Droid phone in the wild  (Source: AP)

The iPhone has more apps than the Droid phone and is a bit thinner, but it lacks a physical keyboard, arguably an inferior screen, a worse camera, no support for Flash, and a lack of true multitasking, forcing app backgrounding. Apple is reportedly planning a price cut on a reduced memory iPhone 3GS (8 GB) to try to stay competitive.
Apple once again is challenged in the smartphone arena

While the Blackberry is currently the bestselling smartphone, thanks largely to a strong core of business users, sales numbers indicate the iPhone dominates the multimedia entertainment phone market.  Verizon's Droid phone, which launched on Friday, may change that as it looks to be solid competitor to the iPhone in many ways.

Droid ships with a 16 GB microSD card, but is expandable up to 32 GB, allowing it to match the highest-capacity iPhone 3GS (which does not have expandable memory).  The phone is ever-so-slightly thicker than the iPhone, at 13.7 mm (vs. 12 mm for the iPhone 3GS).  It also packs a slide-out physical keyboard, which some customers prefer.

Droid also has a better camera (5.0 megapixels vs. 3.0 megapixels on the iPhone), a dual LED flash (the iPhone has no camera flash), and a nicer screen.  The Droid's screen bests the iPhone's both in pixel density and size (3.7" and 265 ppi for Droid, 3.5" and 185 ppi for the iPhone).  It also bests the iPhone in battery capacity (1400 mAh v. 1219 mAh), though the actually operating battery life has not been extensively benchmarked versus the iPhone.  Like the iPhone, Droid features multi-touch technology, something Apple claims to hold a copyright on and reportedly strong-armed Google out of with the original Android operating system.  And like the Palm Pre, true multitasking is supported.

Other advantages include its support of Adobe Flash (allowing full-fledged internet browsing), a technology that Apple has rejected.  It also compares favorably with the iPhone on price, coming in at $200 after $100 mail-in rebate with a new contract, versus $199 (with plan) for a 16 GB iPhone 3GS, or $299 for a 32 GB iPhone 3GS.

Along with the launch of the new phone on Friday came official details on its tethering plan.  Like the Blackberry Storm 2 and several other Verizon handsets, Droid phones indeed have an option to serve as a mobile internet connection for your PC and laptop at home or on the go.

One of the long standing complaints about the iPhone is that AT&T still doesn't offer tethering services with it in the U.S.  While tethering may soon be in sight, as it is supported by the current version of OS X software on the iPhone, many wonder how much longer they will have to wait.  Some of these users are now eying Droid, as tethering is now officially available for it.

The phone's tethering costs are similar to Verizon's other 3G phone tethering offers, reportedly.  For any user with a qualifying handset, they pay a maximum of $50 per month for 5GB of data transfer.  Most users have access to a $30 per month rate, if they have the Unlimited Wireless Email, Email and Web for Smartphone Feature or Plan, Nationwide Premium Plan and others -- which nearly all Verizon's smart phone customers opt for. 

Customers with Verizon's $79.99 per month PDA/Smartphone Nationwide Email plan get a nice perk -- the ability to pick up tethering for only $15 per month.  Customers jumping on tethering should be careful, though, overages (after the first 5120 MB) run at 5 cents per MB, or $51.20 per GB.

The tethering option at $30 per month, while not overly cheap (it doubles Droid's $30 data fee), does stack up nicely compared to Verizon's wireless broadband cards, which also use the telecom's 3G network.  These cards, available in USB and PC Card forms (typically free or at minimal cost after rebate) are offered with plans of 250MB of data for $40 a month (10 cents per MB overages) or 5 GB for $60 per month (5 cents per MB overages).  The only other apparent downside of choosing tethering on Droid or Verizon's other phones is that it may prove a significant drain your phone battery when in use.

While there are many upsides to Verizon customers when it comes to the Droid phone, one downside is its app marketplace.  There reportedly are a bit over 10,000 apps in the Droid marketplace, while Apple's marketplace just surpassed 100,000.  As mentioned, the iPhone also manages a close win in thickness and additionally the iPhone 3GS processor, an 800 MHz Arm processor underclocked to 600 MHz, slightly bests Droid's processor, which is a 550 MHz Arm processor.  However, with Droid trumping the iPhone 3GS in many other areas, Apple is reportedly a bit spooked.  According to Boy Genius Report, the Cupertino giant is considering a $99 8 GB iPhone 3GS in time for the holiday season.



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RE: The iPhone will win.
By reader1 on 11/9/2009 10:01:14 AM , Rating: -1
There are far more PCs in the world than game consoles, but game consoles still make about 3-4x more money. Open platforms don't protect developers. That's why all the hardcore PC developers are now focused on the consoles. Infinity Ward, Valve, Bungie are all making far more money off of console games than they ever did on the PC, in spite of the PC's much bigger installed base. The same will hold true for iPhone developers.


RE: The iPhone will win.
By mcnabney on 11/9/2009 10:19:02 AM , Rating: 2
You know it is an entirely unfair comparision to weigh ALL PCs against consoles. At least distinguish between an email/Office PC and gaming PCs. I would imagine that PC game sales per device are very good when you only count PCs with a real gaming video card inside.


RE: The iPhone will win.
By troysavary on 11/9/2009 10:27:10 AM , Rating: 2
You should probably qualify that to limit it to PC gaming, not overall sales of PC software. Windows sales alone make far more money than the entire console market.

As an aside, I am not even sure the console market really is bigger than the PC game market either. Sure, consoles win in retail sales. But the majority on PC game sales are online now. You can't just count the shooters and RTS games that dominate the console market. All those casual Java and Flash games from Oberon, Big Fish, Wildgames, etc are a huge market. Every HP home PC sold ships with Wildgames, and I believe Gateway does as well.


RE: The iPhone will win.
By weskurtz0081 on 11/9/2009 11:54:40 AM , Rating: 1
Why do you think console developers are making so much more money than PC developers?

Since I know you don't own the answer to that, I will answer it for you, it's because console software sales are MUCH higher than PC game software sales.

Just because there are a bunch of computers out there doesn't mean everyone with a PC plays games. However, the main focus of a game console is to play games, and every game console will at least have one game with it.

Nice thought but no where near accurate. It's funny how you are onto comparing everything to consoles now, to bad your comparison here holds not one ounce of validity.


RE: The iPhone will win.
By Alexstarfire on 11/9/2009 7:55:33 PM , Rating: 1
Except for Blizzard, and I'm sure they probably make more off of WoW than many other game companies do off their entire lineup of games.

Ohh, and what games does Valve have for consoles? I know of Half-life, but I can't think of any others. I don't even see how Valve could do anything on consoles considering how dependent they are on the Steam platform.

I guess you just like to ignore some facts though.


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