Sunday, October 18, 2009

Android on Verizon to take on AT&T, Apple

Last night during the ALCS, Verizon launched a new marketing blitz to promote its much lauded Android handest 'Droid' (A moniker oddly enough owned by none other than George Lucas). Its a ballsy campaign to take one of the largest consumer electronics manufacturers in the world, especially after taking jabs at poor AT&T 3G coverage with the 'There's a Map For That' ad launched earlier this month. Let's dissect the main takeaways from this, shall we?

A Powerful Ad
Apple ads have always been effective, and Microsoft's lame attempts to respond to them prove that as marketing tools, they're simply too mighty to topple. Instead, the Droid commercial brings you in through parody, mimicking the same trendy format with plain black text. As you get bombarded with a series of 'iDon't' statements, you begin to realize that this is no Apple commercial. One by one, they disect the lack of iPhone features and flaws that have been safely protected behind Apple's marketing veil. The final scene tears through the white, symbolically pulling the veil down. is the only call to action, with no evidence of Verizon branding. That last point is an interesting one, and almost serves as an acknowledgment that consumers may not perceive Verizon as an open company that can make solid hardware and software.

No iPhone on Verizon Anytime Soon
Those of you iPhone holdouts waiting for its arrival to Verizon should stop holding your breaths. This commercial calls Apple out directly for its closed platform, trendy indie advertising, and other lacking phone features (keyboard, low res camera, etc).  This is somewhat counter intuitive to a strategy that would cultivate and strengthen an eventual business partnership between the two giants.

As the number one wireless company in the US of A, it seems that Verizon would be eventually forced into this direction. The iPhone has made an undeniable impact on the consumer smartphone market, and with AT&T iPhone exclusivity showing no end in sight, it seems that they're looking to Google to show them how to actually make a UI that isn't completely terrible. What a great segway to the next point....

Verizon and Open Connectivity in the Same Sentence
I was on the Big V for 5 years, and my greatest frustration with their platforms were the flurry of GET IT NOW, VCAST MUSIC, MY PIX, MY FLIX, etc programs which ultimately result in the dishing out of money. It was poor execution of a user interface that worked less and less for the user and more and more for the bottom line of Verizon. When Apple and AT&T showed me that I could make my existing music, pictures, and video easily manageable, I made the jump, and haven't looked back.

And now there's Android. Since Google announced its open-source mobile platform in 2007, consumers and developers have rejoiced at the prospect of crowd-sourced application development open to all carriers. Being somewhat at the mercy of their customers as second rate carriers with spottier coverage, T-Mobile and Sprint understood that this affordable path to an innovative UI could give them an advantage over the big guys and adopted first.  Since then, they've enjoyed commercial success with the Palm Pre and MyTouch 3G.

Verizon is now stepping up to the open-source plate, and I think its a big victory for consumers.  Its a company that has traditionally been quite eager to sell content, but not really all that keen to help customers manage their existing content. I only hope that its an acknowledgment that Verizon is a great wireless carrier, but an awful content vendor, hardware maker, and software developer. I'm still somewhat skeptical in the execution, anticipating exclusive compatibility with software and hardware accessories only sold through Verizon channels, but its a great move towards the mythical dichotomy that I dreamed about as a young lad: A great, affordable phone that can actually make phone calls everywhere.


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