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Motorola's Droid Launch Impresses

Motorola and Verizon introduced the Droid smartphone Wednesday at a New York City press conference, and the device looks like a winner.



) -- If



had a make or break moment, this might be it.


future of Motorola's phone business rides on the Droid

, Motorola's

best new phone

, powered by


(GOOG) - Get Free Report

Android software and sold exclusively by


(VZ) - Get Free Report

, the nation's largest wireless player.

Motorola and Verizon introduced the Droid

Wednesday at a New York City press conference. The initial takeaway: Ladies and gentlemen, we may have a winner.



phone is amazingly thin for a device with a slide-out keyboard. It is a half-inch thick, with a metal top and a brilliant 3.7-inch touch screen. In the hand, the


feels hefty, and it's sliding keyboard mechanism is sturdy.

The Droid smartphone.

Verizon will sell the


starting Nov. 6 for $199 with a two-year contract.

For Verizon, the


is likely to be the best and strongest alternative to


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(AAPL) - Get Free Report


In keeping with Verizon's new

openness initiative, the


-- at least in its early release -- won't have the carrier's proprietary VCast and VZ Navigator services. Verizon has opted to let users determine their own music and video services.

Motorola has had some big turning points along its winding wireless path. And many of those moments have been moves in the wrong direction. After a big success with the Razr phone, Motorola

failed for years to find any new models

to continue the streak. Sales dived, layoffs ensued and billionaire activist Carl Icahn forced out former CEO Ed Zander and pushed for a breakup of the company.

Now, after a year at the helm, Motorola wireless chief Sanjay Jah gets to see if his strategy to toss out Microsoft software and build a new line of phones around Google's Android operating system will work.

"We wanted to be in the game," Jah said at the



As for further plans, Jah said Motorola will introduce more than 20 smartphones in 2010, with most running on the Android operating system.


Written by Scott Moritz in New York