Droid X: One Phone to Meet Different Needs for Verizon, Motorola

Verizon Wireless (s vz) has introduced the Droid X, a successor to the popular Droid launched last October, the first handset to run Google’s Android 2.0 operating system. Built by Motorola (s mot), the updated Droid X joins the HTC Incredible, LG Ally and Motorola’s own Devour in Verizon’s Android lineup. While many of its features make the device look like a “me too” when compared to the Incredible — both offer large touchscreens, fast processors and HD high quality video recording — Verizon and Motorola both need a new Droid model, albeit for different reasons.

Still without an iPhone to offer, Verizon is relying on Google Android (s goog) handsets to keep customers from fleeing to rival AT&T (s t). If sales numbers for the original Droid are any indication — an estimated 1 million in the first 74 days — Verizon’s Droid helped limit defectors seeking an iPhone. Indeed, in April, Verizon reported an improved postpaid churn of 1.07 percent. But the original Droid, now eight months old, is long in the tooth. And Verizon is facing supply issues with its other high-end Android device, the Incredible — the handset is currently unavailable until July 21, reportedly due to a shortage of display panels.

Meanwhile, Motorola hasn’t had a follow-up device whose sales compare to that of the Droid. Instead of high-end devices, Motorola followed the Droid with low- to mid-end handsets running older versions of Android. At a time where the market is getting flooded with one powerful device after another, Motorola’s Droid X has the potential to get the company back in the smartphone spotlight. Even with the Droid, Motorola sold fewer handsets in the first quarter of 2010 than in a year prior — allowing for Research In Motion (s rimm), Apple and ZTE to jump past Motorola in quarterly device sales.

With no other iPhone competitor in stock, Verizon would be well-advised to run a Droid X campaign that highlights the improved hardware keyboard. Sinking $100 million into marketing certainly helped the original Droid, and would benefit both carrier and handset maker right now — such a media effort could help offset buzz for AT&T and Apple (s aapl) as new iPhone 4 handsets are arriving.

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