One (an)Droid to Rule Them All

Forgive the mix of movies. Secretly, you know you love mashups of your favorite movies, like peanut butter and chocolate.

Anyway, I was chatting over OraTweet with a pal here at work about this unbelievable but true deal from Amazon on the Droid family of phones. She’s in India, making the deal unavailable, but the conversation led to an explanation about the differences between Droid and Android.

This is a smart person, mind you, but not someone who nerds around and mods for fun. At least, I don’t think so.

Still, the heavy marketing for the Droid and its kin has created confusion. I’ve heard several people confusing Droid with Android, and I wonder if it’s good or bad for the overall Android community, assuming that it matters at all.

Here are the facts.

The Droid family is sold and marketed by Verizon in the US. I’ve no idea what the international marketing is like. The family of phones all run Android as their operating system, which is developed and maintained by Google.

Unlike Apple’s iOS, Android can be used by other carriers and hardware manufacturers. Therefore, many smartphones also run Android.

Simply put: every Droid is an Android phone, but not every Android phone is a Droid.

Droid can’t even be tied to the phone’s hardware because among the Droid family, there are different hardware manufacturers. Motorola makes the Droid X, Droid II and Droid Pro, as well as the granddaddy original Droid. HTC makes the Droid Incredible.

So, boiled down, Droid is a Verizon construct.

And kudos to them for giving Android skin in the game. I continue to be disappointed in the amount of marketing that other carriers put into their Android phones.

The geek in me is bothered by this marketing-created confusion, mostly because Android is much bigger than a single carrier. That’s the whole point.

The real question is does the Droid-Android confusion really hurt Android?

I say yes.

Anytime you have to explain something, you run the risk of losing someone’s interest/attention. For example, what if a Sprint customer under contract wants a to upgrade to a Droid phone? The immediate and correct answer is, you can’t have one because those are Verizon phones.

It takes time to figure out a) what the person really wants and b) explain the difference.

Plus, the more marketing Verizon does, drilling the message home that they have the Droids you’re looking for, the less other (essentially equal, sometimes better) options are considered, and carrier differentiation creates a false sense that there is a major difference between Android phones.

Sure, each manufacturer adds their own UI layer on top of stock Android, and Verizon will soon be adding its own app market too.

Still, Android phones function pretty much alike, regardless of carrier.

This is no good, especially considering that the iPhone has no such problem, not even across carriers. It’s a single phone, on one network. Take it or leave it.

Thoughts? Find the comments.




  1. I was really into the idea of having a high-end Android phone. Over recent months the number of posts I’ve seen about carrier bloat ware and upgrade problems is making me less enthusiastic. I’m now starting to think maybe the iPhone is a better choice in the high end, not because it’s a better phone, but because you know exactly what you are getting. I can’t be bothered to become a phone hacker in order to get the latest greatest stuff on my phone, but I do object to having carriers fill it with crap I don’t want.

    The only thing I would say is that Android is now filtering down into the low end of the market. There are some very cheap deals now with a free phone and very low monthly tariffs for the low spec Android phones. I would consider one of these, just because they are practically disposable, so when I need to upgrade Android I just get a new phone.

    By the way, in the UK the marketing is all based around Android, not carrier-specific names for the OS/package. They will harp on about the features, as if Twitter and Facebook are part of the phone, but always mention it’s running Android.



  2. Interesting, I figured the Droid problem might be domestic only created by Verizon, but as I mention, the perception has extended (at least in part) to India.

    Maybe that’s bc the CDMA Droid models can function there.

    The answer for you might be to buy one of those low-end Android phones and mod it to do what you want. This would get you familiar with Android generally in case you wanted to re-up to a nicer phone.

    The carrier bloatware and upgrade problems vary greatly between carriers and hardware providers. I’d still be happy with rooted HTC Sense on my EVO if I hadn’t got the itch to mod. There was minimal bloatware, and Sense is a nice UI. Rooting, which is relatively trivial, is the only thing I think is required.

    So, I think the anti-Android coverage is a bit blown out of proportion by the Apple fanbois of the world.

  3. to Jake on the original post: you can’t have it both ways. either you want the purity of thought/purpose of monolithic marketing, or you want the diversity of approach/thought that comes with, well, diversity.

    to Oraclebase: huh?!?
    >>I can’t be bothered to become a phone hacker in order to get the latest greatest stuff on my phone…
    err… you ever even HEAR of jailbreaking? or put any thought into the reason it exists?
    >>but I do object to having carriers fill it with crap I don’t want.
    har de har har. dude! you’re describing the iphone! sure, others do it too — but pretending apple doesn’t — didn’t virtually INVENT the practice. sheesh.

  4. Ah but I should be able to have it both ways. Google has the sway to make it so, but they have chosen not to, and by staying on the sidelines, they’ve diluted the Android brand.

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