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Verizon Droid makes a strong first week showing

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Maybe it wasn't the iPhone-obliterating launch that some Droid-loving pundits predicted. But according to one media tracking firm, more than 250,000 people picked up a Droid handset last week – a major-league kick-off, no matter which way you slice it.

First, a recap: On Friday, Nov. 6, Verizon Wireless rolled out the Droid, a smartphone manufactured by Motorola and powered by Google's Android operating system. Verizon went heavy on the Droid hype in the days leading up to the launch, billing the Android-equipped Droid as next-generation "stealth" technology.

On Droid launch day, Verizon went so far as to unveil a plus-sized marketing gimmick – a promotion allowing New Yorkers to control two of Times Square's largest digital billboards using only voice commands. So how did the Droid stack up? Pretty well, actually.

Early tests of the Droid were largely positive, with reviewers praising the Droid’s navigation capabilities, its full QWERTY keyboard, and its lush screen display, which easily bests the iPhone in terms of resolution. Over at Gizmodo, Matt Buchanan said there is “something weirdly refreshing about [the] straightforwardly utilitarian design” on the Droid, and at CNET, Kent German and Bonnie Cha call the Droid “a real competitor to Apple’s device.”

Now we have some evidence that Verizon's media blitz paid big dividends. A quarter of a million people purchased Droid phones last week alone, mobile tracking company Flurry announced today. By comparison, Flurry says, 1.6 million iPhone 3G S handsets were sold during that smartphone's first week.

It's a big discrepancy, but in a blog post, Flurry execs warned that the figures could be misleading:

While Flurry estimates Apple sold approximately 1.6 million 3GS units over its first week of sales, it is important to note that Apple simultaneously launched its device across eight countries (U.S., Canada and six European countries), while the Droid launched only in the U.S. Additionally, the iPhone commanded a strong installed base of over 25 million at the time the 3GS launched. Of those, over 6 million were first generation iPhone users who were expected to upgrade to the 3GS. Taken in this context, Droid sales of 250,000 units during its first week from a standing start and in just one country, is a strong result for Motorola and Verizon.

What do you think? Do you have a Droid? Did you switch away from Apple? Drop us a line here, or on Twitter, @CSMHorizonsBlog.

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