How The Name Droid Saved Motorola And Made Android

How The Name Droid Saved Motorola And Made Android

Wired has a really interesting story on the pre-Droid days of Android. If you remember back in 2009, Android was hardly the big player it is now. The G1 was nice, the myTouch 3G was a slight improvement and the Hero was a step in the right direction but it needed something different, something that would draw a line in the sand and say we’re not the iPhone and we don’t want to be. Something that would become the Droid.

But even more than Android needing a hit to legitimise itself, Motorola needed a grand slam to get itself out of its post RAZR hole. Motorola smartly teamed up with an iPhone-less Verizon to create an eventual dynamic duo. But everything needed to be perfect! The name Motorola was going with internally with their phone – Shoals – didn’t quite do it for Verizon so Verizon reached out to McGarry Bowen, a young ad agency, for help. Wired reports:

“We told them they had a week,” said someone who was involved in the discussions. “A few days later, [they]come back and says, ‘What do you think when I say Droid?”

In retrospect, what the agency had done was simple: It turned the phone’s menacing looks into its biggest asset by marketing it as an anti-iPhone. The iPhone was smooth and refined, so they would pitch the Droid as rough and ready for work. The iPhone’s electronics and software were inaccessible, so they’d market the phone’s hackability. “If there had been a phone in the movie Black Hawk Down, it would have looked like the Droid.”

I loved the Droid because of just that. It embraced what it was. Big, black, beautiful and not the iPhone. Of course it didn’t hurt that it was a great phone with a fast processor, super crisp screen and running a maturing Android 2.0 but it was a bold move by Motorola to swing for the fences and a genius move by Verizon to lock up an iPhone competitor (that would ironically help land them the iPhone in the future).

It’s sorta funny to look back at the harsh marketing of the Droid – from the commercial spots, to the name,to the phone itself – and see that as the tipping point of when little android became Android. But it’s true! It was the phone and name that changed the game for Android (of course the Nexus One coming after didn’t hurt either). Read the whole report, with some great stories about Andy Rubin and Google working with Motorola, at Wired. [Wired]