Motorola swings at BlackBerry with Droid Pro ... And misses

Noah Kravitz
 from  Oakland, CA
| Published: October 6, 2010

Motorola launched five Android devices last night at a press event themed around the tagline "Get Ready." They may as well have added a word to the meme and made it, "Get Ready, BlackBerry." From the execs on stage to the stats projected behind them to the devices they unveiled, the message was pretty clear: Why settle for an outdated BlackBerry for business when you can have a newfangled Android phone for work and play?

Great message. Too bad the business device that's leading the charge, the Droid Pro, was so disappointing.

My time with Droid Pro was pretty limited, and I fully intend to take a closer look at the phone at tonight's press event, so maybe my first impressions won't pan out. But the entire time I was playing with a Droid Pro last night I kept wondering what happened between the Droid, Droid 2, and the cheap-feeling slab with the BlackBerry-knockoff keyboard that I was holding. 

I didn't much care for the original Droid but that was largely because I didn't like its keyboard. The device itself was a solid performer that sold well and whose marketing campaign was largely responsible for most average Americans slowly coming to think that any smartphone not made by Apple is a "Droid" (as opposed to an Android phone, a Droid Incredible, a T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide, etc). The Droid 2 took everything I didn't like about the original - i.e. the keyboard - and made it better. Enough better that D2 is my current pick of Verizon's litter. 

But this thing, the "Pro"? What happened? The screen is underwhelming, the keyboard looks and feels like - to use Engadget's term - a KIRF ripoff of a BlackBerry keyboard, and the whole thing just feels a lot more like an entry-level messaging phone than the device that will finally nudge RIM out of the boardroom with its sleek styling, power-user friendly QWERTY and enterprise ready features and security.

Maybe I'm wrong. Happens all the time. I'll go into tonight with as open and critical a mind as possible and start over with the Droid Pro. But for now, it feels like Moto picked the right time to talk about how Android is creeping up on RIM's stronghold and how Motorola can leverage Google's OS to deliver a new breed of business devices to the executive class ... but they picked the wrong piece of hardware to back up their talk with.

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