Verizon takes on the iPhone in new commercial, and fails

Mon, Oct 19, 2009


About two weeks ago, Verizon launched a commercial which took a not so subtle jab at AT&T by misappropriating Apple’s famous iPhone tagline, “There’s an app for that”, and replacing it with “There’s a map for that”.

Now, Verizon is back for more and this time it has the upcoming, and Android powered, Motorola Droid smartphone as its wingman.  In the ad below, Verizon points out all of the things that the iPhone can’t do, as it coyly mentions that the “Droid Does”.

The ad points out that the iPhone doesn’t have a real keyboard, can’t run simultaneous apps, can’t take 5 megapixel pictures, doesn’t have widgets, and doesn’t allow allow open development – in addition to pointing out a few other “shortcomings”.  We’re then treated to a futuristic transmission seemingly from outerspace which touts the upcoming Motorola Droid.

There are a few things to note here.

First, of all the “issues” listed in the commercial, the only one really worth a damn is the Droid’s ability take 5 megapixel photos.  And still, photos on the new iPhone 3GS are nothing to scoff at, and I doubt anyone would base their smartphone purchasing decision on the picture quality of the phone, all things considered.  And also, what in the world are these “widgets” that the iPhone can’t run?

Second, consumers don’t purchase products based off of feature lists, they purchase products that are easy to use and give them the functionality they desire.  The Droid hasn’t come out yet so it’s too early to know what it’s UI will be like, but what good is a 5 megapixel camera if the user interface to access it is clumsy and ass-backwards?  That’s why simply listing a number of features is pretty subpar advertising in that that by itself doesn’t really give the user an idea of what its like to actually use the product.  Think about the iPod and all the competing MP3 players in the mid 2000’s.  Feature for feature, the iPod wasn’t anywhere near the top, but it still became the most popular MP3 player because consumers prefer ease of use and elegant design over haphazardly assembled feature lists.

Third, this ad is from Verizon, and with their weight firmly behind Android powered smartphones these days, it seems all but certain that the iPhone will not be hitting the Verizon network anytime soon.  Moreover, DaringFireball points out that the Droid name is “a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd., licensed to Verizon.  What this means is that Motorola’s new Droid is actually a “Verizon-owned brand.”

That’s the big thing. Verizon doesn’t see itself as a mere carrier for other companies’ phones. It sees itself as being bigger than the phones. It’s Verizon-vs.-Apple in this spot, not Verizon-vs.-AT&T.


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Peter Says:

    […] they purchase products that are easy to use and give them the functionality they desire.

    Agreed. So those people who would like to be able to run multiple applications simultaneously, have real keyboards, be able to stay connected and don’t mind carrying extra batteries, and be able to get information at glance will be better served by a Verizon Droid than with an iPhone.

    Makes sense to me.

    The Droid hasn’t come out yet so it’s too early to know what it’s UI will be like […]

    So, in other words, based on your first statement, you don’t know whether or not the UI will make things accessible. Maybe you should consider actually trying a phone running Android. While I have an iPhone, my boss has a T-Mobile G1 running Android which I played with and had no problems accessing the various things he had installed (including the Terminal…)

    And it’s actually Verizon versus AT&T/Apple. Take a look at the end of those iPhone ads on TV. They list both AT&T and Apple. So it’s fair to say that Verizon is going up against both–as they must.

  2. Jared Says:

    I wondered the same thing about those widgets. “There’s a widget for that.” I guess pressing the home button and switching over to the weather app and then back to Safari is too still too slow? Personally I would rather quit and reload apps to save battery and get better performance. The Dashboard Widgets in OS X are already bad enough, real RAM hogs.

    That being said, certain kinds of background apps make sense, like viruses, Banzai Buddy, and Windows Update popups. I miss those on my iPod touch.

    Just kidding. Seriously it would be cool to be able to stream Pandora and use Safari simultaneously, for example. Maybe they’ll make an API that does this effectively so various music/radio/white-noise apps could still maintain good battery life while allowing other reading-type apps like Stanza and Safari to run. Apple will eventually have to address this.

  3. Jared Says:

    redirects to a Flash-only “web site”

    (useless to iPhone/iPod touch users).

    Apple has nothing to fear from Verizon, in terms of stealing away iPhone customers, since their marketing materials won’t display at all (even if they had any info at all) on iPhones. Failure.

    Droid “may”, but iPhone certainly “does not” play full-screen Flash ads.

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