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Verizon says the Droid brand isn’t dead, but it sure looks like it

Verizon says the Droid brand isn’t dead, but it sure looks like it


Motorola releasing a non-Droid phone on Verizon is pretty unusual

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Verizon is the exclusive US carrier of Motorola’s new Moto Z2 Play, but if you take a close look at the phone, you’ll notice something missing: there’s no Droid branding anywhere. Motorola has been Verizon’s closest partner on the Droid family of products for years. Just take a look at this history.

But not this time.

On last year’s Moto phones, the Droid logo had a prominent position right beneath the camera lens. But it’s nowhere to be found on the Moto Z2 Play, and none of the marketing material from Motorola (or Verizon) make any mention of the long-running brand.

Moto Z camera bump
Last year’s Moto Z Droid.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

“We'll continue using the Droid name on future smartphones when it makes sense,” a Verizon spokesperson told The Verge by email. Your guess is as good as mine on why Verizon and Motorola decided that it didn’t make sense for this particular phone. If Motorola’s not going to be making these things from now on, what company will?

Verizon will still use Droid ‘when it makes sense’

Verizon’s Droid effort made its debut in 2009 with an aggressive advertising campaign directly targeted at the iPhone. Apple’s smartphone was still exclusive to AT&T at the time, so Verizon needed some way of firing back. The headline feature of the original, Motorola-made Droid smartphone was its landscape slide-out keyboard. Verizon promoted that Droid and subsequent models with dark, sci-fi themed commercials. On some phones, users would be greeted by a glowing red eye when they powered up the devices. And then there was the signature, robotic “Drrrroooiiiiidddd” alert tone.

The Droid fleet represented some of the iPhone’s earliest credible competition. Before Samsung came to dominate the Android platform, many US consumers referred to all Android devices as Droids. But the brand no longer enjoys that type of mindshare, which might’ve led to Motorola wanting to shed it after all these years. “We have a great relationship with Motorola and are excited about the future of the Moto Z lineup, including the upcoming Moto Z2 Play and new Moto Mods,” the Verizon spokesperson said.

The Moto Z2 Play isn’t being marketed as a Droid.
The Moto Z2 Play isn’t being marketed as a Droid.

Now the question becomes who’s next? When will it “make sense” to revive the Droid?

Since there’s no telling when we’ll see another, let us reminisce with some of the most absurd ads for this line of phones.

Launch hype. “What in the world is that?”:

One of countless sci-fi ads:

Samsung made a Droid smartphone once, too:

“It’s not an upgrade to your phone. It’s an upgrade to yourself”:

This one couldn’t have been cheap to produce:

James Franco did one:

So did Ed Norton:

More recent ads focused less on robots and more on practical features: