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Reporter Shaun Byron and Video Editor Andrew DuPont sound-off on whatever is on their minds, from politics to pop-culture, from movies to the main stream media. Local, national, world-wide? If it's in the media mix, these two are sure to have an opinion on it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Commerical Teardown: There's a lawsuit for that

AT&T has their fair share of stupid commercials, but their not the only ones, and this time Verizon has them beat. So much so that AT&T has filed a lawsuit against them. No, not because AT&T has stupid commercials trademarked, but because they say the recent "There's a map for that" ad by Verizon are misleading about AT&T coverage compared to Verizon's.   In case you haven't seen the ad, here is the first one they ran:

The ad plays off the popular iPhone "there's an app for that" commercials. AT&T is the exclusive service provider for iPhones.

Here's the problem:

While the map clearly states it's showing 3G coverage, there are some "fine print" details AT&T feels need to be mentioned as well:

- AT&T customers can still use their phones for voice and data just fine outside of the areas colored in blue on the map because AT&T has a large data network. The map of which takes the steam out of their comparison.

- Verizon does not have anything besides their 3G network, so the bare spots on their map are spots where your phone won't work at all.

Are these details really lawsuit worthy? AT&T thinks they are, but for customers I guess it depends on where you live. People in the Metro Detroit area aren't likely to be effected by it one way or the other, but strangely enough there are parts of Texas where AT&T offers 3G and Verizon doesn't have coverage at all.  Details, details. Of course, Verizon was trying to make a dig at iPhones prior to the release of the Droid phone, and the ad would not have as much impact if it showed maps comparing total coverage areas.

Nevertheless the ad has already been changed with footnotes reflecting that voice and data are available outside of the blue areas on the AT&T map. Odds are the ads won't be around much longer anyway. The Droid phone comes out tomorrow and Verizon is already touting it as the iPhone killer, so I would expect to see these ads replaced by adds comparing the phones themselves in the near future.

For what it's worth, I've always felt marketing products as the killer of another wildly popular product is a bad idea. Verizon may want to compare maps now but they're certainly not going to be calling a lot of attention to their apps. While they claim the Droid will have about 10,000 apps available at launch, the iPhone currently runs 96,845 apps, a number that almost doubled in the last 4 months and is showing no signs of slowing. So, while the Droid is getting good reviews so far, Verizon has lot of ground to make up before they can start really touting the killer status of their new product line.

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