Motorola is launching the Droid Pro, a portrait QWERTY keyboard smartphone whose form factor has been popularised by BlackBerry handsets. The particularity of the Droid Pro is that it runs Google-backed Android all the while featuring business-specific features, such as global roaming support, improved VPN support, remote wipe and encryption.
The Droid Pro will launch in November 2010 on US carrier Verizon Wireless.
Business customers have been associated with a longtime Blackberry following. There is empirical evidence, however, that companies are opening their mobile options to other platforms, driven by employee feedback and the interoperability of corporate IT systems (e.g. Microsoft Exchange). Previous Android QWERTY handsets were aiming at the lower end of the market, targeting younger text-messaging demographics (incidentally a segment seeing considerable Blackberry growth).
The launch of the Droid Pro will be interesting for two reasons:
- First, it is the first handset featuring Android to compete head-on against the Blackberry stronghold that is the QWERTY handset market. Many customers are holding off from moving to a full touch screen experience.
- Second, the launch is important as it occurs on Verizon, one of the biggest Blackberry operators. Verizon has been very active in promoting Android on its network. Now that a very competitive Blackberry alternative is being promoted on Research In Motion's turf, the launch will prove a very telling resilience test for Blackberry handsets ahead of what should be an onslaught of competing Android form factors.