The Atrix 4G. Motorola has called it the most powerful smartphone in the world. With a 4 inch multi-touch capacitive screen and an incredible 1 gigabyte of RAM, the Atrix surely packs a powerful punch. But the most interesting thing about the Atrix 4G is that it won't be found in Verizon stores or on their website. The Atrix will be an exclusive to AT&T.
The iPhone Frenzy
AT&T enjoyed an exclusive relationship with Apple and were the only cell provider that could carry the coveted iPhone. This AT&T-Apple agreement forced companies like Verizon and Sprint to tout the strengths of their networks, their pricing and their phones. For Verizon, the focus was on what Droid did and what the iPhone did not.
That all changed on February 11th, 2011, when the iPhone exclusivity was taken from AT&T and Verizon stores were filled with the iPhone 4. Verizon's commercials changed from iPhone bashing/Droid praising ones to "The Wait is Over: iPhone is now on Verizon." Lines formed outside of Verizon retail stores as customers, eager to own an iPhone on Verizon's network, saw their wait over at last. Was this a simple case of Verizon capitalizing on the iPhone's popularity or was it an indication that the battle of the smartphones was over?
Having enjoyed a rapid climb to the number one spot in the smartphone market, Android, and the manufacturers of Android based smartphones had to respond to Verizon's new relationship with Apple in order to hold on to their number one position. The developers at Google and the Android smartphone manufacturers surely knew that AT&T's exclusive contract would end and certainly had a marketing/response plan prepared. But beyond releasing a rash of Android based tablets, a few "new and improved" phones, their response did nothing to quell the iPhone fever.
Motorola's decision to market their self-proclaimed "most powerful Android smartphone" with AT&T can be seen a few different ways:
AT&T, fearful of losing even more ground to Verizon, offered Moto an offer too good to refuse.
Moto, fearful of playing second fiddle to Verizon's iPhone, sent a shot across Verizon's bow and chose AT&T as the carrier for their top of the line Android phone.
Verizon sees the iPhone as their ticket to total smartphone domination, and will focus their marketing and attention to the iPhone and let Android go quietly into the night.
Time Will Tell
The Motorola Atrix, the Motorola Bionic and the HTC Thunderbolt are incredibly powerful Android based smartphones. More Android phones from more manufacturers are coming and the tablets are certain to leave their mark. My belief is that since only Apple can produce iPhones and no other manufacturer, at this time, can use Apple's iPhone operating system, that the other smartphone manufacturers will be forced to design even more powerful phones to lure potential iPhone customers away. I highly doubt that Verizon will stop carrying Android phones but I do believe that their focus will be more to the iPhone than any other phone.
For the cell phone manufacturers, it is survival time. Many customers, for whatever reason, compare all phones to the iPhone. Unless the manufacturers continue to impress and unless Google continues its seemingly never-ending commitment to Android improvements, the iPhone may just take over the world.
I've owned both the iPhone 4 (on AT&T) and several Android based phones. I get asked quite often if I am going to make the switch to an iPhone or stick it out with Android. It's not a matter of sticking it out with me; instead, it's about choosing the operating system that has to "try harder" in order to continue to thrive. When a company feels they need to improve faster than their competition, wonderful and exciting things can happen.
I will be getting my new Android phone very soon and only need to decide between the Thunderbolt and the Bionic. Unless, of course, another Android phone catches my eye. And I'll be willing to bet that's exactly what will happen.