The Verizon Droid by Motorola. Click to enlarge.
The Droid, the smartphone released Nov. 6 through a partnership between Motorola, Google and Verizon Wireless, has significantly outpaced other Android handsets in first-week sales, according to one analytics firm — which said the feat makes the Droid the first viable iPhone challenger.
Mobile app analytics firm Flurry estimates that 250,000 Droids sold within seven days of launch — more than four times as many as the HTC myTouch, which Flurry said had 60,000 in sales a week after its release.
Still, these figures pale in comparison to Apple’s iPhone 3GS, which surpassed the 1 million mark within three days.
However, it’s worth noting that the 3GS went on sale in eight countries, not just the U.S. as the Droid did. And the iPhone already had an avid fan base waiting to upgrade.
Given this, Flurry sees the early sales numbers as a good omen for the Droid, which runs on version 2.0 of the open source Android platform. To the mobile researcher, the Droid’s early performance signals that it’s competing with the iPhone.
Trends in app development are also starting to look more promising for Android-based devices in the Droid’s wake. Flurry said it’s seen a “sharp increase” in new applications being developed for the mobile OS — an increase of 94 percent from September to October.
“The launch of Droid signals the beginning of a viable platform alternative to the iPhone as Android builds critical mass,” Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at Flurry, wrote in a blog post. “As major companies continue to vie for a piece of the exploding smartphone market, the consumer has never had more choice and innovation in the mobile industry. With Droid, Motorola has raised the bar for Android handsets, contributing to an ever-growing base of Android handsets upon which applications developers can build a business.”
Flurry arrived at the Droid sales figure through the analytics service it provides for more than 10,000 apps. The company said the apps that it tracks are on two out of every three iPhone and Android handsets worldwide.
The company’s Droid sales estimates compare to numbers offered recently by other analysts, which have ranged from 100,000 to 200,000 for the debut weekend.
One reason all eyes are on the Droid is because the smartphone sector is a bright spot in the otherwise slumping mobile phone and tech industry. That’s been spurring unprecedented competition among key players, all of whom want to unseat the iPhone in terms of popularity and profit.
For Motorola (NYSE: MOT) specifically, the stakes are high as the struggling mobile firm looks to Android handsets to return the company to profitability.
This year has marked a seminal era for high-end handsets, as new operating systems, including Google’s Android and Palm’s webOS, gun for traction in the market, while hardware players concentrate on their own releases — spurring new handsets from Apple, Motorola, Palm, HTC, Research In Motion, Nokia and Samsung.
A Verizon spokeswoman had not returned calls seeking comment by press time.