After months of rumored buzz about a Droid variant of HTC's One flagship phone for Verizon, Big Red announced on Monday that it'll soon sell the same One as rival providers. Without providing any specifics, the carrier only acknowledges that the flagship handset is on the horizon.
"We don't have anything to add beyond the tweet that said we were offering the HTC One on our network by end of the summer," Verizon said to CNET in an e-mail.
Even without the benefit of differentiating Droid branding, Verizon's HTC One is very late to the party. HTC said it's already sold 5 million phone since its April launch.
What I want to know -- and what I'm sure you Android-watchers want to know, too -- is why it took so long for Verizon to get the HTC One in its lineup? It could be for any number of reasons ranging from rigorous device testing or an all-too-crowded lineup, to component shortages, to Verizon just taking time for HTC to convince.
I also wonder: will the upcoming release sell the same way for Verizon as it does for other carriers? HTC seems to gain more from the announcement than Verizon, since it gets the marquee device across all four national providers. This is significant because only Apple and Samsung have been able to get cross-carrier uniformity.
The HTC One presumably replaces the HTC Droid DNA that launched late last year. Verizon had a leg up on the competition with the 5-inch DNA, but the handset never achieved the level of success of other Droid models. Maybe a victim of timing or of a crowded smartphone lineup, the DNA simply didn't live up to the hype. Even at the ripe old age of 2 months, the HTC One should do better than the 2012 model.
I might be seeing things that don't exist, but I also get the sense that the Droid brand will slowly wane. More and more, handset-makers are releasing flagship models with brand recognition. Looking at the rumors surrounding the Moto X one might expect the same to continue with Motorola. Generally speaking, carriers win by selling their services and not particular devices. Companies like HTC, LG, and Samsung are now spending marketing money on building a brand.
With all of this in mind, I expect that Verizon's One will match the rest on other carriers. In the end everyone wins, but at varying degrees. Verizon benefits by selling one of the highest-rated smartphones on the planet. HTC wins because it gets to continue building momentum around its handset and brand, and customers can rejoice that they won't have to weigh the differences between a specialized Droid phone and what every other carrier offers.
The HTC One is the One, plain and simple.