Did yesterday’s Verizon press event feel a little underwhelming to anyone else? Nothing personal against Eric Schmidt, but his ‘surprise appearance’ wasn’t all that exciting. And don’t get me wrong, the Droid X looks like a very sweet phone and I find myself wishing I was due for an update. But so many of the bullet points just seemed a little weak.
For instance, Verizon is partnering with Blockbuster for streaming movies. That’s good news for Blockbuster, I guess. But as an end user I’d much rather it was Netflix. Like so many people, I already have a Netflix account; does this mean I’d have to sign up for Blockbuster in order to stream movies to my Droid X? The iPhone is getting Netflix, and Netflix was hiring an Android programmer last April. And now we get Blockbuster? Meh. Then there was the offer for early upgrades. Anyone who is eligible for an upgrade sometime in 2010 can upgrade to the Droid X on July 15th when it launches. That’s nice and all, but what about early adopters who bought the Droid last November, and so aren't eligible until 2011? Why not offer them some kind of break? They're Verizon's hardcore Android ambassadors. Keep them happy! Then there’s the whole disappointment around the Droid X shipping with Android 2.1 rather than 2.2. Verizon promised an update late this summer, but history has shown that Motorola and Verizon seem to have trouble getting these updates out in a timely manner. I wouldn’t expect 2.2 on the Droid X much before October. Oh, and that means Flash is delayed too, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. The last thing I need is my phone downloading Flash ads every time I go to a website. It wasn’t all bad news, though. Having Swype pre-installed is nice, and we’re still being offered the Unlimited Data plan for $29.99/month. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Verizon had followed AT&T and introduced capped plans. $20 for 2GB of tethered data seems OK, but wow, the overage costs of five cents/megabte seems steep (about $50/GB, unless my math is off). And as I mentioned, the actual hardware looks very nice, with its 1 Ghz processor, 4.3” screen and HDMI out. Record video at 720P then play it back in HD on my TV? Yes, please. But we knew about the phone’s specs ahead of time (not from a leak, but from Verizon publishing them). I was hoping for some surprises coming out of the event, but in the end it just felt like an entirely inadequate attempt to steal some thunder from the iPhone 4G launch. Memo to Verizon and Motorola: The next time you make a lot of noise about an upcoming press event, hold something exciting back to surprise us during the presentation! You’ve got a great piece of hardware in the Droid X. We should’ve come away from that event really excited. Instead we mostly got confirmation of what we already knew, with some modest disappointment about the phone shipping with 2.1.