There is a huge problem in the high-tech industry … marketing.

Yeah … marketing.

Think of it this way: A lot of the products and services that are billed as “high-tech” are created by “tech” people.  These are nerdy individuals (like myself) that actually appreciate the fact their processor can address a 64-bit memory address instead of the old 32-bit.  But … we must convey this improvement into something that an average person actually cares about.  How do you convey this extreme technological feat to your average consumer who still asks “how many gigabytes do I need for my processor?”

This has been a problem for the Android operating system.  Simply stated … Google sucks at marketing.  I know it seems crazy, right.  They have all these users, they have all this market share, and their brand is worth billions.

But wait … think about it.

Google is great because they make great products.  I mean … look at Gmail.  You didn’t see any Gmail commercials.  You didn’t see any witty ads with white backgrounds and Apple inspired intellect.  What you heard was “I love Gmail” or “Gmail is great”.  Google puts out good products and people like them.  They don’t need to convince you it’s part of a revolution, that you are part of something great, or anything else.  They just make really good products and innovate like it’s going out of style.

But this doesn’t always work.  When it came to Android smartphones, it was a little harder than usual.  They had this product with a lot of good features, proper integration with the “cloud”, a marketplace, apps, great web browser, a keyboard, all that good stuff.  But still … it didn’t sell that well.

I had a G1.  The first Android cell phone.  I bought it about a week after it was released.  I personally had a lot invested in this new operating system.  Not only did I spend several hundred dollars on the phone, but I was also teaching myself how to make Android applications.  The iPhone marketplace was already overrun with apps and there were a million and one developers already trying to make it rich.  I knew this fledgling system with the backing of Google had the potential to really be big.  So, I started to follow Android.  The releases, the new devices, the future of the platform, and who around me was buying it.  I would tell everyone about the greatness of Android and why they should buy a G1.

If you were a developer, if you were a lover of phones, if you knew your gadgets, you knew what Android was.  I was able to quickly jump into my anti-iPhone speech and soon I was deep into discussion.

But supposed you didn’t fall into one of these categories.  The first question I would get as soon as I tried to jump on my soapbox was “What is an Android phone?  Is that the Google Phone? Isn’t it like an iPhone?”

And that was the problem with Android phones for a long time.  The only way people could judge them was in comparison to an iPhone.  There wasn’t a lot of information outside the tech community about it.  T-mobile wasn’t exactly the best at conveying to consumers the power of Android. Sure, they could tell you about the “cool phone”, but it’s a lot easier to sell a Google phone than it is to sell an Android device.  So what you had was the “Android” brand being worthless.  People didn’t understand what the Android operating system was, what it had to offer, and what the deal was.

Oh yeah … I’m supposed to be talking about Verizon …

In comes Verizon.

Life is bad.  The iPhone is getting all this buzz.  People are running to AT&T as a result of the little device.  Subscribers are actually willing to give up your “superior” service as a result of this touch based phone.  And it SUCKS.  It really really sucked for Verizon.  What were they to do?

They created “The Droid”.  They took the Android operating system, finally focused on the advantages that it had, got some great devices on a great network, and finally made a brand to fight the iPhone.  Not only did they take shots at the iPhone (remember the iDon’t commercials), telling people the truth about their “magical” device, and they did it with visually engaging ads.  Oddly enough, desperation forced them to do what Google couldn’t do.  They took the power that was Android, and they actually found a way to communicate that to consumers.

They marketed … and damn well.

So … thank you Verizon.  As a result, there are a lot of people that still call every Android phone a “Droid”.  They know what it can do, they often have some idea it’s running Google software, and they realize it poses stiff competition to an iPhone.

And you know how the story went after that.  Android devices outsell iPhones every month, and the battle rages on.  And I think … Google has a lot to thank Verizon for … a lot.

– Damien Peters