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Slow start for the Motorola Droid?

From coast to coast, customers were not lining up to get their hands on the much-hyped smartphone. But Verizon says it doesn't see that as a bad thing.

Big lines didn't form outside most Verizon Wireless stores the day the new Droid hit the market.
Marguerite Reardon/CNET

NEW YORK--The new Motorola Droid got a sleepy reception on Friday morning when it officially went on sale across the country in Verizon Wireless stores starting at 7 a.m. in some places.

From New York to San Francisco, most stores around the country had few if any lines when doors opened Friday morning. There was a handful of people waiting outside at the Verizon Wireless store on West 34th Street here in Manhattan. And about 20 people waited in line outside a store here on Sixth Avenue, as well as at one in Clifton, N.J., Verizon officials said.

CNET reporters in San Francisco reported they saw only about 15 customers lined up for the device before a Verizon Wireless store opened there Friday.

The scene was somewhat more lively last night, when Verizon Wireless opened its West 34th Street in New York City from midnight to 2 a.m. About 100 eager Droid customers were in line when the store opened last night. Verizon spokesman David Samberg said the company sold 85 Droids in the first 45 minutes the store was open on Thursday night.

But even though the Droid didn't stir enough enthusiasm to get people to stand outside on a cold November morning, there appeared to be a steady stream of customers in several Verizon Wireless stores. Many customers were interested in the Droid, while some were checking out the new HTC Android Eris, which also went on sale Friday.

Lines are overrated
Samberg said that a lack of a long line or shortage of devices is actually a good thing. And he urged people to not prejudge the phone's success on that alone.

"Long lines forming outside are flashy," he said. "But it's not really the goal. What we really want to see is this: a steady stream of people coming today and for the next few weeks buying new phones."

While the lines, or lack of lines as the case may be, are far less dramatic than the hoopla surrounding an Apple iPhone launch, analysts are quick to point out that Verizon sold about one million of the buggy BlackBerry Storms in the first three months when those devices went on sale a year ago.

Chirag Patel said he likes the look and feel of the HTC Droid Eris better than the Motorola Droid. Marguerite Reardon/CNET

So far the reviews and customer feedback on the new Droid have been positive. The sharp display and cool applications like Google Maps with navigation are impressing customers. But the slow and sometimes blurry 5-megapixel camera was a noticeable negative, even for prospective customers checking out the device in the store.

"The software is slick," said Chirag Patel, 33, who was in the West 34th Street store checking out both the Droid and the Eris. "It's much better than the G1 on T-Mobile, but the camera is very slow. And it got a little hung up when I played around with it here in the store."

Surprisingly, Patel said he liked the look and feel of the HTC Android Eris better than the Droid, but he probably wouldn't buy it because it isn't yet running thelatest 2.0 version of the Android operating system. While reviewers have praised the Droid's software, the physical design of the device is a bit clunky. And the device itself is heavier than many other phones in its class. For this reason, among others, Patel said he'd take the weekend to think over his Droid purchase.

"I really don't want to be carrying around a 100-pound block in my pocket," he said. "I can already imagine it weighing down the pocket of my cargo shorts in the summer. So I have to really think about whether I want to lug this thing around for two years."