Last week, all the rumors I’d been hearing about HTC’s M7 really started to crystallize, and between HTC sending out its save-the-dates for its February 19 press event (which, were I a betting man, I’d be placing some serious wagers on it serving as the M7’s public announcement) and Peter Chou’s impassioned cheerleading for the M7 at the HTC year-end party, the M7 really started moving from the realm of rumors to becoming something so much more tangible.
As I thought about the rumors that the phone would be following in the footsteps of models like Samsung’s Galaxy S III and coming to all the major carriers in the US, I couldn’t help but take a moment’s pause at the idea that this announcement would be coming just three months after HTC and Verizon first debuted the Droid DNA. Considering that the rumored specs we’ve seen attached to the M7 make it seem like a slightly faster, more compact, and just all-around more refined version of the Droid DNA, I had to wonder: won’t the M7 just positively obliterate any chance the Droid DNA has for any sort of continued sales success?
With new rumors arriving today that Verizon might be planning to delay the release of its version of the M7, I got the feeling that some Verizon execs might have been thinking along the same lines as I had. If that’s actually true, it’s going to be just awful news for Verizon subscribers, especially the captive audience that’s already locked-in to the carrier and is looking to upgrade phones in the near future.
Why the Droid DNA is Doomed
Obviously, we don’t know the full story on the M7 just yet, but unless the specs that have been mentioned so far are wildly incorrect (and so far, there’s no reason to think so), the only thing the Droid DNA could possibly have going for it is a slightly-larger screen, and that’s only if you find such a device attractive. That’s a really big “if” right there, and frankly I just don’t think a lot of people are going to feel that way. The appeal of the Droid DNA wasn’t necessarily its five-inch display, but the 1080p resolution; give that same (actually, a wee bit better) image quality to users in a screen size that’s more familiar to them, and most will flock to the M7 like the Droid DNA is carrying the plague.
At least with other pairs of similar smartphone models, there was one obvious tradeoff between the two on which you could base your purchasing decision. Look at Motorola’s Maxx versions of its RAZR Androids, which sacrificed thinness for battery capacity. Here, that barely-larger screen on the Droid DNA isn’t anywhere near as compelling as the ability to get several hours of extra use out of your phone, and I can’t imagine people will let it weigh too heavily on their purchasing decisions.
If this rumor about a delayed Verizon M7 is accurate, the only parties who stand to benefit are Verizon and HTC, letting them dispose of pre-existing stock. I really can’t see Verizon coming up with a good reason to continue selling the Droid DNA once the M7 arrives, barring some sort of agreement with HTC in which it’s already committed to the phone for some pre-set length of time.
Maybe Verizon want to save face, though. Maybe it isn’t ready to send the impression that it really jumped the gun on bringing the Droid DNA to its subscribers and that it would have been to those users’ benefit for the carrier to wait for the M7 like everyone else. In that case, Verizon would really have to knock the price down on the Droid DNA in order for it to see any sort of sales once the M7 rolls along.
Right now, the carrier’s got the DNA for about $200 on contract, so luckily there’s still a lot of wiggle room. A $150 Droid DNA might make sense to some short-sighted subscribers not willing to pay a little extra money – what probably amounts to a mere fraction of their monthly service bills – in order to buy the superior M7. That would also send the message to existing owners that the model they chose isn’t simply being thrown under the bus.
There are ways out of this that could let Verizon and HTC avoid looking like opportunistic jerks, but make no mistake – I would not want to be the Verizon rep who sells someone a Droid DNA today, and will have to face that same customer again just a few weeks from now, once the M7’s official.