updated 12:00 am EST, Fri November 6, 2009
Droid launches at 34th St store
As promised, Verizon tonight launched the Motorola Droid and HTC Droid Eris at its primary retail store on 34th Street in New York City. The midnight opening is the first official launch in the country but follows numerous reports from those who have visited Best Buy and Walmart stores and successfully obtained the phone ahead of its official street date. Walmart Super Center stores are also typically opening sales at midnight, though the next earliest opportunity will involve the 7AM and 8AM openings at some non-mall Verizon stores.
Many reports have also surfaced of Verizon stores carrying ample amounts of stock, with even smaller stores having as many as 50 units on hand while larger stores range into the hundreds. The stock situation is in areas comparable to the iPhone 3GS launch, where supply was often universally healthy, but is a distinct improvement over the June launch of the Palm Pre at Sprint where many official stores had at most a few dozen units and third-party retailers often had as few as one or two.
Although only fully revealed just over a week ago, the Droid is increasingly being seen as Verizon's most important device of the entire year and signals both a more visible commitment to open platforms like Android 2.0 as well as a rapid dismissal of BlackBerries as part of its main smartphone strategy. Verizon has launched the Storm2 and Curve 8530 but has timed both releases to directly coincide with its higher-profile Droid-branded phones and guaranteed reduced attention for both.
In addition to being a flagship for both Google and Verizon, the Droid may represent a watershed for mobile GPS as the presence of Google Maps Navigation gives the smartphone one of the first truly free yet advanced turn-by-turn navigation apps bundled with a phone.
Readers who have bought a Droid or attended an early opening are encouraged to share their stories both in comments or through our contact page.