Motorola Droid Not as Lifeless as First Thought

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Motorola's ( MOT) Droid isn't such a dud after all, according to an independent analyst who has been monitoring Verizon's ( VZ) closely watched Google ( GOOG) phone sales.

Michael Cote of the Cote Collaborative believes Verizon has sold at least 400,000 Droid phones, more than four times as many as BroadPoint AmTech analyst Mark McKechnie's best guess earlier this week. BroadPoint's 100,000 sales estimate for the heavily hyped $200 Google Android-powered phone had been the most widely circulated guess on consumer demand for the Droid to date.

"This is a moving target," Cote says of his larger estimate.

Cote credits McKechnie with having accurate Verizon store Droid allocation numbers, but says that is only part of the picture. Cote, who is a pricing and product strategy consultant to several of the major industry players, says his checks of all Droid outlets including Best Buy ( BBY) stores and online sales show a much bigger number.

A Verizon representative declined to comment on the number of Droids sold to date.
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If the 400,000 estimate is true, it would be less troubling than the weak initial sales numbers for the Droid. Motorola's stock has dropped 11% since Verizon started selling the Droid on Friday. The sleepy reception fed concerns that the phone wasn't packing enough appeal to contend with Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone at AT&T ( T).
Motorola Droid.

Motorola needs to sell more than 1 million Droid phones this year to clear the low bar set by analysts. Unfortunately for Motorola, any new potential iPhone killer is bound to be measured against the iPhone's debut performances.

The first iPhone, introduced in 2007, sputtered in sales initially but eventually hit the 1 million mark in 72 days. The follow up iPhone 3GS had a huge debut reaching the 1 million milepost on the first weekend.

The iPhone's sales improved as users and reviewers gave the device their thumbs up ratings. But so far, the Droid has received what amount to favorably mixed reviews, praising the design, the large screen and Google software, but bemoaning the weak camera and glitchy touchscreen and business email connections.

-- Written by Scott Moritz in New York.
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