|Lower Manhattan 7:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6. Photo taken by Droid phone.|
NEW YORK, ( TheStreet) -- Debut weekend sales of Motorola's ( MOT) Droid phone met low expectations at least. Sales of the new $200 Google ( GOOG) Android powered touchscreen phone at Verizon ( VZ) got off to a sleepy start Friday as Manhattan stores saw no customer lines and hundreds of phones available. By Monday, a Verizon representative said "a lot" of Droids were sold over the weekend, but declined to offer a specific number. "We don't plan on releasing sales figures for the individual products," the rep said. One thing seems clear, had Verizon hit the 1 million mark, you'd know about it. One million is a key milepost, and one that rival AT&T's ( T) Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone 3GS reached on its opening weekend in 2008. It's all good, say some analysts who kept the bar low for Motorola's all-or-nothing gamble on the Android operating system. "We don't believe investors expected an iPhone like launch but rather a first step in a cadence of products that will help bring Motorola's handsets out of the death spiral experienced during the past three years," Citi analyst Jim Suva wrote in a research note Monday. Suva reports that Droid sales were "solid" based on checks at stores on the East Coast and West Coast. Whether a solid or sluggish start, sales will get a big boost starting Monday as Verizon introduces at least three new TV ads as part of its biggest-ever marketing effort. The ads continue an anti-AT&T theme that pokes at the iPhone's performance on Ma Bell's 3G wireless network.
Motorola's slim Web-friendly, big-screen Droid is aimed directly at not just the Apple's iPhone but Research In Motion's ( RIMM) BlackBerry and Palm's ( PALM) Pre phone. This competition will intensify as we get closer to the holiday gift buying season. Analysts expect Motorola to sell between 1 million to 2 million Droids in the remaining eight weeks of the year. Motorola shares fell 4% Friday on tepid Droid sales, but the stock was up 1% to $9.03 in early trading Monday.