With DroidX, Motorola shows it can play ball with Apple - and HTC

With the unveiling of the Droid X, Motorola puts itself into the spotlight with another eye-catching Android device. But can it keep up with the buzz created by Apple and now HTC in the smartphone space?

Motorola put itself back into the spotlight today with the unveiling of the Droid X, the latest Google Android phone to be offered on the Verizon network in the U.S. The move is significant for a couple of reasons. First, it takes the spotlight off of Apple's iPhone 4 - if only for a day or two - to highlight some of the features that differentiate the two from each other. Second, it puts Motorola back in the game against HTC, which is becoming more like a competition between twin siblings battling for Mom's love. And third, it gives Verizon another device to showcase in its competitive sparring against AT&T.

Interestingly enough, the unveiling event in New York City this morning was a Motorola event - not a Google one. Sure, CEO Eric Schmidt popped in for a short-but-sweet cameo to offer some thoughts on mobile, the importance of operating system and so on. But this was not a Google event. This was all Motorola and Verizon - in fact, that's who issued the official press release. Google is already getting high praises for what it's doing with Android. In an earlier post today, I highlighted a survey among developers who ranked Google as the player with the most long-term potential in mobile. Likewise, Verizon also has an upward momentum pushing it forward. Sure, it may not have the iPhone (yet) but it ranks high in service and it's got some of the coolest non-iPhone devices on its network. But Motorola is a different story. The company put all of its chips into the Android game about a year ago, gambling on Google's effort to not only get into the game but eventually dominate it. Yes, the mighty iPhone is still the one to beat but that's changing as consumers unwilling to go the Apple route - whether that's because of the AT&T exclusivity or Apple's Nazi-like heavy-handed control over the iOS ecosystem - find that Android offers them an iPhone-like experience without the hassles that go with it. And, initially, it had some momentum. The Cliq with MotoBlur, for example, got some rave reviews early on - but then things fizzled. Same thing happened with the original Droid, though that device still seems to have quite a bit of consumer recognition. But then rival HTC came in with its own Android devices and quickly captured the spotlight with devices such as the Incredible for Verizon and the Evo 4G for Sprint. Now, it's Motorola's time to jump back into the spotlight, if only for a moment. With Verizon behind the Droid X, it's sure to get the marketing heft that it will need to make a name for itself, as well. And I'll be interested in reading the forthcoming hands-on reviews. Enjoy your moment, Motorola. These days, the spotlight doesn't stick around too long. Also see: Motorola: Can it differentiate itself in the Droid mix?