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Has the Motorola Droid 'Force' Hit You?

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The buzz surrounding Motorola's Droid, one of the most anticipated handsets to date, reached a deafening peak today.  In an effort to compete with the iPhone, Motorola joined forces with Google and Verizon.  Will the 'Force' be strong enough in the Droid?  Well, since Motorola has to pay a fee to Lucasfilm just to use the term "Droid", they better get some 'Force' out of the deal.  Star Wars references aside, the Droid has some interesting stories surronding it.

The Google Bump
You should go to the Google search page and see the kind of exposure Droid is getting.  That's right, the world's most popular search engine has one ad on its front page and it's for the Motorola Droid.  Of course, Google is giving this priviledge to the Droid because it uses its Android 2.0 operating system. 

The Other Droid
There's another Droid on the market.  HTC's Droid Eris also came out today.  Eris is similar to the HTC Hero, a handset from Sprint.  Eris is a Verizon phone based on Android 1.5.  The "Droid" designation is not meant to confuse.  Verizon says it will use the "Droid" brand name in every phone that has the Android OS.

Ahead of the Game
Motorola is getting a significant advantage in the smartphone market because it is the first phone to use the newest version of Android OS.  It's uncertain whether or not handsets with older versions of Android will be able to upgrade to 2.0.  Most smartphones don't have the hardware to handle Android 2.0, and it may be a few months before they catch up. 

Is Android's Source Truly Open?
Android 2.0 is open source, but there's some doubt as to whether or not contributors outside of Google have much control over the development.  It was only within the last week that the feature list and developer kit for Android 2.0 were released.  That didn't give outside developers much time to contribute before the Android 2.0 shipped with the Droid smartphone.  How much contribution is coming from developers outside Google?  Is Google's desire for consistent commercial output the real driving force behnd Android development?  Would you call it open source?
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Ryan Developer replied on Fri, 2009/11/06 - 8:00pm

I'd much rather get behind Android based phones than iPhone because I can write programs for it using the Java programming language. This phone is what I've been waiting years for! I'd probably buy one if it were available in Canada. I hope Sun makes some announcements about JavaFX and Android OS before the end of the year. Back in 2008 they showed a demo of JavaFX running on Android. There was some speculation about how they did it, like having to install a full Java VM. Since Java FX script compiles down to the same Java bytecode that you'd get if you had written plain Java and used Java 2D apis etc., then you would think that JavaFX bytecode could also be converted to Dalvik bytecode and used on Android OS without needing to install a Java VM. I also hope to hear something concrete about the Java store and mobile phones. Will any carriers adopt it when there is already many app stores for phones?

Nathan Stevens replied on Sat, 2009/11/07 - 9:18am

We have been down this road before. There is a hot new phone on the market which runs Linux/Java combination. Developers and tech fans get all excited, but regular consumers could care less. And  that's my prediction for this device. The iPhone has a culture around it, and until another phones gets that, no matter how technologically superior they are, the will fail to have much market share. 

And unfortunately market share is all that matters at the end of the day from a business point of view.  For example, I am in the planning stages of an inventory system for phones and at the end of the day, the platforms I chose to target were J2ME phones/Blackberry, and iPhone because I can pretty much write one code based have have it run on all of them including android if it came to that (still not sure about the J2ME solutions for the iPhones though. Does any one of any experience with there).

Speaking of which, WHY THE HELL doesn't Android have a built in J2ME environment standard, and for that matter the Palm Pre. Seems to me they could attract a lot more developers if they simple provided a J2ME environment.  We know why Apple doesn't, but Palm Pre and Android?

Mark Haniford replied on Sat, 2009/11/07 - 12:45pm

Yeah, but I want it offered on Sprint

Peter Koželj replied on Mon, 2009/11/09 - 10:02am

Actuallay Android is picking up quite a momentum and a hole family of phones will gain considerable marker share.

I was also waiting for news about the J2ME and JavaFx for Android but change my mind as of late.
I am one of those that were offended by Apples claims that Java is not good enough for their iPhone.

I bought myself an Android device and done a couple of simple aplications for it and realized the following.
J2ME/MIDP applications are poorly integerated with the phone OS. This is whay java apps feel like
second class citizens. The issue is torelable on current feature phones because users don't notice the OS,
but on smart phones, the OS is the center and apps that don't integerate stand out even more then on feature phones.

As a 100% java entusiast I will say it. JavaME/MIDP is totaly inapropriate for smart phones,
you can not even discuss wether it sucks or not. And this is also a probem for JavaFx Mobile  that builds
on top of MIDP.

I was hoping for JavaFx on android and now, I couldn't have care less.

Mike Mormando replied on Mon, 2009/11/09 - 10:12am

I've got one now, got it delivered Saturday by FedEx. I like it, very nice phone. Everyone I've talked on it has commented on the clarity of the calls. I've already settled a "discussion" with my son by using Google maps. Very fun! On the downside, the very late announcement about multitouch is a disappointment, and the playlist management is a bit confusing for me, it'd be nice if there were some external tool that I could do it with, and there may be, I haven't looked to much. Oh, and apparently the default alarm clock only lets you choose ring tones, rather than aribitrary MP3s or playlists. So, at least I've got my first couple of projects set! ;)

The only thing I'm at all concerned about now is signal strength, and that's the ting that's kept me chained to my old Motorola tri-mode phones for all this time. Places where everyone else had no coverage, I had 3-4 bars, even out in National Parks like Zion's or Bryce. I can see already that I won't have that with this phone, in my own house I'm only getting 2-3 bars. 

Ah well, I guess you can't have everything.

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