Is Verizon taking Android on too strongly?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| March 30, 2011

Verizon has made it very clear that they feel solely responsible for Android's success. Android was around long before it made its way over to Big Red's shelves, though it hadn't yet hit the mainstream wire. Verizon and Motorola undoubtedly kick-started the platform's rapid rise to the top with the introduction of the first high-end Android phone, the original Droid. Since then, they have expanded and popularized their Droid line so much that a large number of prospective buyers confuse Android (operating system) with “Droid” (branding).

Having worked in wireless sales, I can't begin to tell you how many times I was approached by an AT&T or Sprint customer looking to buy "that Droid phone." This should serve as a testament to Verizon's role in Android's success. And seeing that the platform has been a major success and turned a huge profit for the company, it's obvious why they have initiated yet another strong Android push in 2011.

Many anticipated Verizon's adoption of the iPhone to impede sales and avert Big Red's attention from Android. That obviously hasn't happened as the VeriPhone launch day nearly went by unnoticed and we have a whole slew of Verizon branded Android handsets headed our way over the next few months. In fact, there are eight more scheduled Android phones to hit before the end of May. This leads me to ask: is Verizon taking Android on too strongly?

Of the eight upcoming Android phones, seven of them are high-end devices: the Droid Bionic, Xperia Play, Droid X 2, Incredible 2, LG Revolution, Samsung Charge, and the Samsung Galaxy 2. Earlier this month, the ThunderBolt also released. This means that in a matter of three months, Verizon will have released eight high-end Android phones. Most other carriers are sitting contently with three, maybe four.

The bigger problem is that many of these devices overlap. Take the LG Revolution for instance. The ThunderBolt and the Revolution share almost identical specifications, except LG's model has a 5MP camera versus HTC's 8MP, it has a TFT display in comparison to the ThunderBolt's Super LCD, and it ships with 16GB of internal memory versus the TBolt's 32GB microSD card. This, too, can be said for the Charge and the Galaxy 2 or the Bionic and Droid X 2.

From a buyer's standpoint, this dilution simply means more choices. That's a good thing, right? Not exactly. Buying a phone is no longer just buying a phone; it's more closely related to buying your next car. A few years back, this wasn't a big deal. Flip open your phone, make a call, close the phone, and put it back in your pocket. Now “primary source of communication” means you are going to use it to text message, email, keep in touch through Facebook, Tweet, read news, check the weather, play games, and so on and so forth.

What this broad selection essentially means is that choosing a phone can be much more difficult. And the odds of choosing a phone that doesn't best suit you are much higher. Choosing a phone that you don't absolutely fall in love with can be increasingly frustrating over time.

Since all of these devices are high-end, you can also expect them to hit shelves with a subsidized price tag of at least $150. The problem here is that their low-end and mid-range lineups are beginning to thin out. The choice is being narrowed to high-end Android phones that strongly resemble one another and carry remarkably similar spec sheets. My guess is that some of the devices will inevitably be shadowed by the more powerful phones made by more popular manufacturers.

What say you? Is this excessive Android push by Verizon a good thing? Or do buyers need more variety like mid-range or Windows Phone devices?