Hindsight is 20/20 is what they say. Now I’m starting to see the picture a little clearer now. Rolling back to January, when Verizon was announcing all their contract/policy changes, I heard a lot of people thinking that Verizon’s change in return policy from 30 days down to 15 days was due to Apples meddling and it had something to do with the rumored iPhone launch that was imminent. But after looking at Verizon’s Android phones announced at CES (HTC Thunderbolt, Motorola Droid Bionic, LG Revolution, Samsung Droid Charge) and more recently the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, Motorola Droid X2, HTC Incredible 2, and HTC Merge, it all makes sense now. They have way too many new phones coming up to keep a 30 day return policy. If they were to keep that 30 day return policy they would have people upgrading from phone to phone to phone, constantly returning the phone they purchased using their 2 year upgrade to get the next newest phone that just launched that week. With eight Android phones incoming, and other competing phones on other operating systems like the Pre 3, iPhone 5, HTC 7 Trophy or Blackberry Storm 3, Verizon is in for a very busy year.

A little over month ago I had an idea of a product strategy for AT&T to counter losing the exclusivity of the iPhone. My idea was that they should counter Verizon’s move by launching one new Android handset every month to show the versatility of AT&Ts global GSM bands in conjunction with their new LTE technology, being that their network upgrade plan coincides with the rest of the worlds’ infrastructure upgrades. This benefit in global compatibility means that AT&T really has the pick of the litter of all the handsets that launch globally. Little did I know that Verizon had already thought of my products blitzkrieg and really was making a checkmate move for the American wireless market. They convinced all the major manufacturers that make Android phones into making CDMA/LTE 4G phones for them probably without letting these manufacturers know of the soon to launch competition for Verizon’s own customers in the CDMA iPhone. I’m sure the Verizon iPhone announcement went over well with all these manufacturers because they know they cannot compete for the mind-share of the American people on the Android name alone. One of the best things Apple has going for it these days is its reputation. I’m by no means an Apple fan  – but I do have respect for their success in building strong name recognition – which really is almost everything in consumers’ minds. This is one of the primary reasons why HP’s TouchPad tablet will give even the most advertised Android tablets a run for their money. Everyone knows HP, they’ve been around forever, and sell a ton of PCs every year. People are going to think “I know HP, they’re a big name, and that’s on sale this week.” Boom, there’s a sale adding to the webOS market-share.

Once I heard of the CDMA iPhone launch on Verizon, I was saying to all that would listen: handset that manufacturers would be stupid to sign an exclusivity agreement with Verizon on any new 3G only CDMA handsets due to the new iPhone and the difficulty of competing with Apple’s marketing dollars being spent on advertising Verizon’s new iPhone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen enough manufacturer advertisements to steal the spotlight from Apple. I was assuming that in order to increase their profitability Verizon would stop they’re aggressive Droid marketing campaign due to their new found love of the iPhone and its profit margins. I am pleased to say I have not seen a stop in their marketing of new Android devices like the Thunderbolt and the Motorola Xoom. I think the only real way to win back any mind-share on the Android front would be if Google themselves started advertising for Android in order to create a unified thought of the OS. Even though Android has passed up iOS in market-share here in the USA a lot of people don’t understand they have an Android phone. A lot of consumers still think they have a Droid, a myTouch or a Galaxy phone without knowing anything of the OS underneath. This is going to be a problem going forward. Everyone knows Windows so Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is going to have a very unified community even though it its spread among many manufacturers’ phones. Google has to do the same thing. Most people use Google to search and a lot of people use Gmail as their main email. Google needs to leverage that and make people realize that they should choose Android instead of iOS. It’s more of a “why wouldn’t you choose Android being that so much of your internet life revolves around services they give away” ?

How do you think 2011 is going to shape up? Are you planning on getting any of the Android devices mentioned above? Which carrier do you think will have the best Android phones in 2011?

Darryl Doak
Darryl is our in house device reviewer. His love of Android has lead him on the personal quest to find the phone and tablet that suit him best. This all started with the T-Mobile G1, moving onto the Motorola CLIQ XT(stock Motoblur 1.5 & Cyanogenmod 7.0), myTouch 3G, Samsung Vibrant, Samsung Transform, Samsung Intercept, Archos 101 Gen 8 Internet Tablet, Google Nexus S 4G, and now he's the very happy owner of a myTouch 4g, Evo 4G and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The next stops he's planning on making are to the Evo 3D, and Motorola Photon 4G. But the hunt never really stops. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/darryldoak