Commentary

Apple Evenhanded In New iPhone Ad

On the heels of Verizon's debuting its first iPhone ad, Apple over the weekend launched its own ad promoting the new partnership with the carrier. But instead of simply trumpeting the iPhone on Verizon, the 30-second spot, in heavy rotation during the NFL conference championship games on Sunday, takes a more diplomatic approach.

The ad (posted below) shows a side-by-side comparison of two iPhone 4s, each handling the same series of tasks -- browsing photos, posting a status update on Facebook, reading an e-book, video chatting -- while Strauss' "Blue Danube Waltz" plays in the background. Then the screen shows the AT&T and Verizon logos side-by-side, followed by the tagline "Two is better than one," and closing with the Apple logo and "iPhone 4."

Call it Apple's attempt at achieving détente between the two U.S. wireless superpowers. The unsaid message: The iPhone 4 on either carrier delivers the same set of features and functionality that have made the device so popular. You can't go wrong with either one. Apple here is Switzerland. And it's not surprising the company is taking a neutral position in the ad -- it wouldn't make a lot of sense for it to spotlight the strengths or weaknesses of one carrier at the expense of the other. Apple wants to sell as many iPhones across both networks as it can.

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Still, it's amusing to see a notoriously competitive company like Apple in the role of peace broker. Imagine if in the Mac vs. PC ads, the two computers' human avatars shook hands and agreed that Mac does some things better than PC and vice-versa. Not going to happen. But when it comes to the iPhone, Apple needs both AT&T and Verizon to succeed despite their obvious rivalry as the nation's two largest wireless operators.

The question is whether the carriers will follow suit by observing a non-aggression pact in their advertising for the iPhone. In its opening ad, featuring the tagline "It begins," Verizon didn't go for the jugular by aiming at AT&T's reputation for uneven coverage with the iPhone.

That doesn't mean the heavy artillery isn't yet to come. But Verizon also knows AT&T can fire back with an ad stressing that Verizon customers can't browse the Web or use email while talking on the iPhone because of the carrier's CDMA network. It's hard to imagine the two companies won't emphasize the advantages of their own service with the iPhone -- like Verizon's mobile hotspot feature -- but will they hold back on flaming each other in the battle for new and existing iPhone customers?

Verizon has historically been the marketing aggressor, with its Apple ad-mocking "There's a Map for That" and iPhone-bashing "Droid Does" campaigns. If Verizon doesn't go on the offensive against AT&T, then advertising for the iPhone may not descend into a tit-for-tat fight between the carriers that ends in litigation, like their ad slugfest over 3G coverage . If it does, AT&T would feel compelled to respond in kind. It may already be uneasy with the new Apple ad. You have to wonder if the company that's had a nearly four-year exclusive hold on the iPhone agrees that "Two is better than one."
1 comment about "Apple Evenhanded In New iPhone Ad".
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  1. James p Campbell from LTE Network LLC, January 24, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.

    There is only 1 Network in which you can do ALL those things and still talk with somebody... ONLY AT&T enables you to talk and surf on the same iPhone... You will most certainly need 2 iPhone's if you're attempting to do that on that other network... So, not sure 2 is better than one...

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