Motorola's New Void After Droid

The Droid franchise has passed to HTC and the new Verizon Incredible, leaving a big hole in Motorola's product map.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Motorola

(MOT)

defied the doubters with solid first-quarter phone sales. Now new doubts creep in.

Motorola says it shipped 2.3 million

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

Android phones in the first quarter, 300,000 more smartphones than analysts had expected.

The handy performance in the touchscreen category helped push Motorola shares up 3% Thursday.

The news, however, comes on the day that Motorola's leading phone, the

Droid

, lost its top billing to

Verizon's

(VZ) - Get Report

Incredible

, built by rival

HTC

. The bonus performance also includes strong sales of the Backflip phone at

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

and a big showing in China. But analysts have questioned the Backflip's contribution and cite a troubling return rate for the phone by unhappy customers.

AT&T says it does not comment on return rates, but added that it is "pleased with the sales of this device."

Nevertheless, the surprising surge in Motorola's smartphone sales served to reignite the bull vs. bear debate on Wall Street over the exact status of the tech titan's recovery.

Investors and analysts must ponder whether this is the beginnings of sales momentum for Motorola's retooled smartphone effort or merely the high point of a

raging Droid-fueled turnaround

.

Making this debate even more difficult to call is the fact that Motorola has a glaring absence of new phones entering the market.

Meanwhile, HTC has eye-catching phones like the

Verizon Incredible

, the HD2 at

T-Mobile

and the upcoming EVO at

Sprint

(S) - Get Report

. And heavy hitter of the group --

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

-- is set to unveil its revamped iPhone in June.

"There's a flood of Android supply coming in," says MKM Partners' analyst Tero Kuittinen. "And Motorola's second-quarter slate looks very thin."

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.