Publish date:

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.

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- If

Motorola

(MOT)

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

The

future of Motorola's phone business rides on the Droid

, Motorola's

best new phone

, powered by

Google's

(GOOG) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class C Report

Android software and sold exclusively by

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. 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.

The

Droid

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

Droid

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

The Droid smartphone.

TheStreet Recommends

Verizon will sell the

Droid

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

For Verizon, the

Droid

is likely to be the best and strongest alternative to

AT&T's

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report

iPhone.

In keeping with Verizon's new

openness initiative, the

Droid

-- 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

Droid

launch.

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

.