Verizon Wireless' audacious new TV ad that aired over the weekend takes direct aim at the iPhone, and has already sparked a backlash in the tech blogosphere. Ticking off a list of features or functions not found on the iPhone ("iDon't have a real keyboard," "iDon't take night shots"), the 30-second spot breaks into the pop music-backed opening with a jagged, futuristic transmission announcing the Motorola Droid, the new Android 2.0-powered smartphone that Verizon will release next month. "Everything iDont, Droid Does" is the tag line.
By challenging the signature Apple device so openly, the consensus is that Verizon is only setting itself up for failure when the Droid fails to live up to the hype as yet another would-be iPhone killer. Remember the buildup for the BlackBerry Storm? "I feel the only reason the 'Droid' will do well is because of marketing. But once put into the hands of users, I feel a disappointment will emerge," wrote one commenter on the Phonescoop blog.
Others took issue with the ad's list of "iDont's," pointing out that the lack of a physical keyboard has hardly hurt the iPhone's adoption and has, by now, become a tired complaint. The "iDon't run widgets" line raised questions about exactly what a widget is and the rejoinder that the App Store offers some 85,000 apps compared to the Android Market's 10,000.
Most surprising is that the ad (and teaser Web site set up by Verizon) doesn't hit the iPhone for what is perceived to be its biggest weakness: running on an unreliable wireless network. Sure, Verizon's "There's a map for that" campaign mocks AT&T -- the iPhone's exclusive carrier -- for its much-publicized problems powering the device. But passing up the opportunity to hit that sore point again when attacking the iPhone seems like an oversight.
One thing is for sure -- the new Droid campaign makes the prospect of a Verizon iPhone appear even more unlikely. "This 'iDon't' commercial signals the end of that speculation," noted Seth Weintraub at Computer World.
As for the Droid phone itself, Boy Genius Report on Monday offered a mostly positive preview, saying it's the fastest Android device, with the best screen, to date. But he didn't call it an iPhone killer.