Firsthand report: WalletPop blogger and his new Verizon Droid

This morning I braved the frosty morning to join 5-10 other shoppers in line at Verizon for the new Google-powered Motorola Droid. Sure, the Droid didn't come with nearly as much fanfare as Verizon would have hoped, and no professional line-sitters showed up like they did for the iPhone, but the release of the Droid will have a big affect on the cell phone business.

Let me start by saying that, while the "Droid Does" a lot of the things that the iPhone can't, it has a little ways to go before it can take the crown off of the iPhone.

Yes, it has a keyboard; but it isn't the greatest. Yes, it has an amazing screen, but there's no dedicated place to buy TV shows and movies. And finally, yes, the Droid has a 5MP camera, but it won't replace your point-and-shoot.

That said, the Droid has a great network, an app store free of Apple's tight grip, turn-by-turn navigation with Google Nav, and the much-improved Android 2.0 operating system, which all combine for an enjoyable experience. You can read the full review of the Motorola Droid at Engadget, but the bottom line is, if you're a Verizon customer, this is the droid you've been looking for!

While many have called the iPhone the "Jesus Phone" for its inability to do no wrong, I challenge bestowing such a moniker on the iconic gadget that has had a monopoly on the cool and useful phone market for the last 3 years. Instead, if I were to name a phone after a savior, I would choose the new Motorola Droid. No it's not going to kill the iPhone, but it just might save customers a lot of money by bringing something back to the wireless industry that has been missing for too long -- honest-to-goodness competition.

Since AT&T had the iPhone on lockdown for the past several years, there hasn't been significant pressure on the company to compete in terms of price. Yes, old hardware prices came down but, for the most part, the iPhone retains its same price tag and AT&T's ability to handle data traffic remains the same, or by some accounts has grown worse!

Now that a real competitor has arrived in the form of a more polished interface and a network so good it deserves a lawsuit, Apple and AT&T have to take another look at their empire. It's already rumored that a new $99 8 GB iPhone 3GS will be out before Christmas and, who knows, perhaps it will lead to a more open policy on the iPhone app store.

In the end, competition in the cell phone industry is great to see and consumers will benefit greatly from it. We can only hope that T-Mobile's new "Even More" plans, that are half the cost of service from AT&T or Verizon, shake up the cost of making a phone call as much as the Droid will for handsets.
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