Verizon, Google, Motorola and Adobe join forces on new mobile phone. Is this a tech “dream team” or merely an alliance of Apple foes?
The press conference for the forthcoming Droid X was filled with some subtle and not-so-subtle signals that the new Motorola MOT device is not an iPhon
e, and that Apple AAPL isn’t the only smartphone maker that matters.
For starters, there was the lineup of speakers, a rogues’ gallery of Ap
ple and iPhone foes: Verizon VZ marketing chief John Stratton (Verizon does not offer the iPhone; Apple has an exclusive deal with competitor AT&T T); Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha, whose company makes rival devices; Andy Rubin, a vice president at Google GOOG, which has had a divisive falling out with Apple; and Shantanu Narayen, CEO
Then there was the surprise appearance by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who went out of his way to praise the quality of Verizon’s network — a dig at AT&T’s quality struggles, perhaps? — and heralded the Droid X as “not just a toy or app engine.”
Rubin seemed to sum up the spirit of cooperation among the partners: “This is a hit business,” he said, adding: “There’s a band forming today, and the result is some pretty cool technology.”
Whether this new band should concern Apple and CEO Steve Jobs remains to be seen. The Droid X, a touchscreen phone with all kinds of multimedia bells and whistles, won’t be released until July 15, but Google’s Android operating system for
mobile phones certainly seems to be gaining momentum: Rubin noted some 160,000 Android-powered phones are activated each day.
What was striking about the Droid X press conference was the utterly egalitarian nature of the presentations. There was no “star” of the show. Each speaker talked for about the same length of time, and each executive went out of his way to compliment the other companies’ contribution to the phone. The overt message: A happy customer experience depends on several things, including a robust network, a flexible operating system, a lightweight, desirable device and good software that lets users see all the web has to offer.
The underlying message: The Apple way is not the only way.
In an interview with FORTUNE, Verizon’s Stratton positioned the partnership among Adobe, Google, Motorola and Verizon as more than the anti-Apple. “I don’t think this is a commentary about Apple so much as it is a commentary about our own views. We think we can do better with strong partners.” Added Rubin: “People can accomplish a lot more if they work together.” Not exactly fighting words, but this may be a case in which actions — and partnerships — speak louder than words.