Motorola Droid smart phone based on Google-backed software hits the US market Friday, taking aim at mobile device powerhouses such as Apple, Nokia, and Research In Motion.

Droid, which will work on the Verizon telecom network, joins growing ranks of smart phones based on an open-source operating system spearheaded by Internet titan Google.

Taiwan-based HTC brought the first Android phone to market late last year.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt recently proclaimed that the smart phone market was on the cusp of an "explosion" of Android devices.

Market tracking firm Gartner agrees, predicting that there will be at least 40 models of Android phones within a year, and that they will be the second place mobile platform by the end of 2012.

Reports surfaced on Thursday that Verizon is poised to add an HTC Android phone to its stable.

"In a few years Android will be the second most popular smart phone running neck-and-neck with Apple," Gartner analyst Van Baker told AFP on Thursday.

Apple iPhones have become coveted devices since they were introduced in early 2007.

Verizon and Motorola have managed to create a marketplace buzz with mysterious video featuring fighter jets releasing metal pods that slam like meteorites into forest, sea, and prairie.

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