Verizon downplays business concerns over Droid

November 3, 2009

Verizon says it isn’t worried by claims that additional costs for using Microsoft Exchange will put business users off the forthcoming Motorola Droid handset. It notes the policy applies to all handsets and says the Droid is “primarily a consumer phone.”

The issue arose in an InfoWorld story which noted that business users might be attracted to the handset because it features Microsoft Exchange Active Sync. That’s a feature allowing a business to synchronize mobile devices with the corporate network so that employees can get e-mails automatically on their handsets.

However, the Droid will be on the same pricing plans as other smartphones on the Verizon network. That means $30 a month for data use, but the figure rises to $45 if you want to include access to Microsoft Exchange. If firms don’t want to pay for an accompanying voice plan, the data use is $50 a month (which includes Exchange access).

Clearly this isn’t a major issue with consumers, and the phone is being hyped as an iPhone rival rather than a business handset. However, the specs do make it viable as a business handset and $15 a month extra is a serious disincentive if you have a large number of employees on the road.

In other Droid news, the device will be released in Europe under the name Milestone, where it will include a “pinch and zoom” touchscreen input, a feature not available in the U.S. Motorola says such differences are usually down to “the region, carrier preferences and consumer needs.” That doesn’t seem to explain this particular case, which makes you wonder if it might have something to do with national patents on similar input technology.

Not all the advantages are with the Europeans though: the Milestone will ship with an 8GB storage card, while the Droid will sport a 16GB model.

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