The Droid is coming, the Droid is coming! No, not the Motorola Droid from Verizon. No, not the latest version of the Google Android operating system. I am talking about the Droid Eris, a modified HTC Hero, which will also be available from Verizon this week.
The media frenzy may be focused on the Verizon Droid from Motorola and the debate around whether or not it can knock the Apple iPhone off its pedestal, but Verizon isn't putting all of its competitive eggs in that one basket. Let's face it, iPhone users love iPhones and even a perfect device would have trouble getting iPhone devotees to convert. As popular as the iPhone is, it is not the whole smartphone market and there is certainly room for more.
Verizon is maximizing its investment in the Droid branding and market recognition by dubbing the new device the Droid Eris. According to the leaked specs, the device is basically the HTC Hero with some minor modifications. It is not as feature-filled as the Motorola Droid, but it has some advantages--most notably the fact that it is only $99 (with a 2-year contract).
The whole Droid marketing may come back to bite Verizon, or Google, or both. Android is establishing itself as a serious contender in the mobile operating system market and its getting a lot of attention. The Verizon line of Android-based devices has co-opted the Droid name (which LucasArts owns the rights to and Verizon has to pay licensing for). Then you have one device just called the Droid, and a new device called the Droid Eris. When you walk into a store and ask for a Droid it could get confusing.
Droid confusion aside, the Droid Eris is relatively impressive though. Based on the leaked specs, the Droid Eris is equipped with a 528MHz Qualcomm CPU, and a 320x480 resolution multi-touch display. It has a standard 3.5mm audio jack, and possibly a bundled 8Gb memory card. It is also smaller than the Motorola Droid which is appealing to some users. All-in-all, it seems like a worthy counterpart for cost-conscious customers.
The HTC Hero is currently available as an Android 1.5 device from Sprint, but HTC is quoted as saying that an Android 2.0 update is in the works. With the HTC Droid Eris set to launch on November 6 alongside the Motorola Droid, it seems that the Droid Eris will also initially come with Android 1.5, but that users can expect Android 2.0 coming soon.
Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.