The smart phone industry's attempts to unseat the Apple iPhone in the United States have been about as unsuccessful as, say, Apple's similarly high-profile anti-Windows ads—but there's a new sheriff in wireless town. And this time, he might actually have the fire power to take on the industry's coolest and fastest-growing smart phone.
Sure, we've seen it all before. But this past week, Verizon Wireless began running a series of aggressive TV advertisements aimed at ridiculing missing or poorly designed features in the supposedly perfect iPhone. And although the ads don't go into too many specifics about the new Verizon phone, they do corroborate recent rumors that the company is on the cusp of shipping a phone based on Google's Android platform.
"iDon't have a real keyboard," the first ad text reads, playing off of Apple's incessant use of "i" words such as iPhone, iPod, and iMac, and alluding to the top complaint about the iPhone. "iDon't run simultaneous apps. iDon't take 5-megapixel pictures. iDon't customize. iDon't run widgets. iDon't allow open development. iDon't take pictures in the dark. iDon't have interchangeable batteries." The 30-second spot concludes with, "Everything iDon't ... Droid does."
Droid, of course, is the name of Verizon's first Android-based phone, and it's shipping in mid-November. This news is notable for a number of reasons.
First, while many analysts feel that it is Android—and not Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry, Nokia, or Microsoft's Windows Mobile—that can make a serious run at the iPhone, the platform has never really taken off yet because it's been stuck on the low-quality T-Mobile network. Verizon, however, is widely acknowledged as having the superior wireless network in the United States, and by supporting Android so aggressively, Verizon is positioning the platform for success.
Second, this ad strongly deflates rumors of the iPhone coming to Verizon. Of course, in the rumor-happy world of Apple fanatics, truth and fantasy are frequently interchangeable. This is the section of the web that predicted an Apple Tablet in September, the launch of the Beatles catalog on iTunes at least seven times, and—most recently—promised that the launch of the widely lauded Windows 7 would, in fact, lead to stronger-than-ever sales of the Mac.
As it turns out, the "iDon't" ads aren't Verizon's first attack on the iPhone. Earlier this month, the company began running a hilarious (and true) ad depicting the difference between the size of its best-in-market network coverage and that of AT&T, the exclusive US carrier for the iPhone. Those ads riffed on Apple's infamous "there's an app for that" iPhone tagline, noting that "there's a map for that," and then graphically showing the difference between Verizon and AT&T coverage in the United States. As an iPhone user, former Verizon customer, and frequent traveler, I can attest to the difference: AT&T's network is seriously lacking in both scope and strength.
The difference between the two networks can't be overstated. Whereas AT&T has struggled to keep up with the lofty data demands of iPhone users, Verizon's vastly superior network is an untapped goldmine for smart phone users. The problem is that Verizon, to date, hasn't had a smart phone good enough to pull users away from their beloved iPhones. The company seems to be betting big that Droid is that phone.
According to the ad, the Verizon Droid debuts in mid-November. It will be the first Android-based phone to run the Android 2.0 software, which adds further enhancements and functionality over the current generation designs.