This Droid Ad Can’t Be About the iPhone. Right?

By  |  Friday, December 4, 2009 at 12:39 am

Cnet’s Chris Matyszczyk thinks this new Verizon Droid ad is slagging the iPhone. Watch it, then tell me what you think:

I (mostly) like the Droid and like its positioning as a somewhat homely but useful phone. And yes, I agree that the phone under attack in the ad looks an awful lot like a white iPhone 3GS, although the spot cunningly never shows you it from the front:

But the iPhone is anything but a “digitally clueless tiara-wearing beauty pageant queen,” and–unless the ad is taking a very oblique swipe at the thinness of AT&T’s 3G network–it isn’t slow. (Actually, its browser seems to do quite well in comparison to the Droid’s, though neither makes me think of sawblades going through bananas.) I have no idea what it means to be digitally clueless, but I’m positive that the iPhone isn’t. And I can’t believe that Verizon would think that any prospective customer who hasn’t been hibernating in a cave somewhere would buy the notion that the iPhone is clueless in any meaningful respect. (Imperfect? Hell, yeah–but not clueless.)

If the ad’s about the iPhone, it might as well toss in a claim that the iPhone supports death panels for old people, or paroled a vicious murderer, or assassinated Archduke Ferdinand. So I choose to think it’s about pretty phones in general. You know–the digitally clueless ones.

Let’s end this with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”


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22 Comments For This Post

  1. Stilgar Says:

    I thought it was a pretty cool commercial in a NiN Closer video kinda way.

    “But the iPhone is anything but a ‘digitally clueless tiara-wearing beauty pageant queen…'”

    Is it? I know a lot of people who have bought an iPhone just because it’s the trendy thing to do, not because they have any actual use for one when they buy it. I mean, the iPhone and it’s apps are handy, but is it something I really /need/ in a phone? Probably not. Although, the same thing is true of any other smart phone.

  2. Sally Says:

    The ads is admiting what many people already know: The Droid is way too big, heavy, bulky, and square.

    I need something very thin and lightweight that slides in my pocket.

  3. tom b Says:

    “I know a lot of people who have bought an iPhone just because it’s the trendy thing to do, not because they have any actual use for one when they buy it”

    Couldn’t this be said for ANY product? A sales a sale.

    For me, I’d be MORE interested in the apps and the ability to double as an iPod than in the actual phone part. But everybody as different needs. Some might use it as a superior E-book alternative to the black and white Kindle.

    Since no one has arrived at an adequate answer to the iPod, I am skeptical that half-baked platforms like Droid are ready at this time to have more than a negligible impact on iPhone sales.

  4. Kevin C. Tofel Says:

    Actually, I think it’s funny that the ad mentions “duct tape”, which is what folks are using to keep the Droid’s battery cover in place. 😉

  5. Josh Says:

    I think it’s a pretty good spot. Verizon is using the same tactic Microsoft used to attack Apple: marginalize the products as being nothing more than aesthetics. This tactic annoys Apple fans and causes hesitation in most run-of-the-mill consumers. No one wants to be made of fool of. It will also create more anti-iPhone zealots — a group of outspoken evangelists convinced of the iPhone’s inferiority and their own moral superiority to those who buy them — regardless of whether or not they end up buying a Droid.

    In this case, however, I can’t see it translating into sales. When we buy smart phones we aren’t just getting a phone, we’re buying into a platform and if that platform isn’t satisfying, it’s bound to fail. The iPhone has an incredible market lead, a robust app store, and a nearly insurmountable chunk of the mindshare. It’s good to see Apple get some competition in this market, but even with AT&T’s disastrous service and the iPhone’s known flaws, I think it will remain king of the hill… for now.

  6. Lawrence Velazquez Says:

    I absolutely think it’s trashing the iPhone. I can’t read it any other way. The whole phone-that-people-buy-to-look-pretty? What other phone fits that?

  7. BladRnr Says:

    Why is it that great design (iPhone) is always seen as “pretty, but no substance” (digitally clueless tiara-wearing beauty pageant queen)? Apple has great design. They think about ALL aspects of the product because Jobs cares. It’s personal to him. Heck, when I open an iPhone or MacBook Air box I try to think of some reason not to throw it away it’s so thought out and upscale.

    In other words, do people in the automotive world think the same of Porsches? I think not.

    Great design in any field does not equate to low capabilities.

  8. Erik Says:

    Absolutely it’s an attack on the iPhone. They’re trying a judo move: turn your opponent’s strength to your advantage. The grungy, “this is all about tech, suckas!” approach is clever and engaging to young males in particular, but as Josh pointed out, the platform is the key to success.

    The iPhone is starting to get some real competition, which is a good thing. But they’re fighting an uphill battle.

  9. John Dingler Says:

    A “clueless tiara-wearing beauty pageant queen” can only bring to mind Sarah Palin. She is also a quitter; She quit her governorship. So I guess Google is smearing the unstated competition politically. I suppose that we are asked to believe and feel that the Droid does not wear a tiara, is not beautiful, and does not enter pageants. Furthering the analogy, the Droid is ordinary looking, likely obese and overfed, and does not compete.

  10. L1A Says:

    There are 100000+ things the Droid can’t do and with 256mb app limit will never be able to do!

  11. Derp Says:

    They should have named their phone iPhone Clone #6. They would get more sales that way.

  12. John Says:

    There is a thread running through engineering world that manly products are not pretty. Sort of like the thought that a beat up old pickup truck is better than a clean, new Porsche. I know guys who intentionally scuff up their laptops and dis people who use keyboard/screen protectors. I’ve heard of a engineering professor mocking freeway bridges in California because they were pretty (regardless of their technical merits). So I don’t know how effective this will be with the general public (probably not much) but making his commercial made someone feel good.

  13. Erik Says:

    Freudian slip?

    “making his commercial made someone feel good.”

  14. Dave Says:

    Verizon is telling the 50% female market that they don’t need them. Telling the general consumer market they can keep their good looking iPhone, we only like this ugly one. And being a buddy to the 14 – 23 year old true misfits they’re targeting with these silly ads.

  15. Bob Says:

    anybody else notice that it was a table saw and not a circular saw? just sayin

  16. Jack Says:

    @John — I believe you would be correct, this is probably why the Palm Pixi is not selling. What man wants to tell his friends he’s got a Pixi?

  17. R2D2 Says:

    What’s amusing is that Apple’s comeback to the first set of Droid ads was to go for a feature and capability comparison showing how multitasking can mean different things. On the other hand all Motorola looks as if it can’t provide even a single differentiating feature that the average consumer would even care about! That to me is the real issue with the Droid. It’s had years to study the iPhone and what the drivers were to adoption yet all they can do is this? A little faster, though by what measure, multitasking, a better camera, a newer technology screen? That’s it? That’s innovation!?!?! In two years? Anyone want to wager if Apple can overcome each of these, if it so desired, in less than 6 months? All I can say is that if this is the best Motorola can do THANK GAWD for Apple entering the smartphone market or we’d all be using Treos.

  18. JakeB Says:

    Not having seen the Droid, I assumed it would be some cool heavy-duty metal tool-looking thing — which would have been kinda neat. Instead it turns out to look a lot more like a 1970 mobile phone. It has the groovy aesthetics of Digital’s mid-70s products, and doesn’t look tough or functional at all.

    And for all the hype, I ask you: Motorola vs. Apple. Who exactly is “digitally clueless”? Seen Motorola’s other phones? Watched them botch and jettison their semiconductor business? Does anybody think Motorola has a clue?

  19. ViNo Says:

    I’m in Korea, rented a LG mobile phone and then I realized why my iPhone is so indispensable. The LG slider phone is a jumble of buttons – none of which makes any ergonomic sense. After a couple of try’s at an SMS and looking up the addressbook, I was ready to throw the phone. Yes, thank god for the iPhone or else we would still be using the Razr, the Treo, the Handsprings and the G1’s! If being pretty means that its indispensable, I’ll take pretty any day.

  20. John Dingler Says:

    If Sadaam’s Scud missile is the metaphor for the Droid, and his Scuds never hit their targets because of bad navigation capabilities, then we can only conclude that the Droid will not hit its target audience because it has bad navigation capabilities. Therefore, Google’s ad is likely to discourage the target demographic from purchasing it. Oh, maybe they want to give it away for free.

  21. Marc Says:

    Great advertisement. I think the number of phone skins, screen protectors and cases sold for the iPhone probably justify what they’re saying. I say that a 3GS user, who only say was sat trying to organise my home screen, wishing I had the HTC hero like ‘profiles. Anyway – the thing is fragile and picks up scratches like the underside of a CD. Show me anyone’s iPhone that has been in their pocket daily for a few months (without a case) and it will look horrible. Search the Apple forums for Hairline scratch to see how many people are distraught that their phone has such an imperfection.
    The iPhone is like an ornament. You either put up with it, or get another phone. No big deal.

  22. Marc Says:

    * Line 2 “who only today” is what I meant to say. 🙂