iDon’t Think the Droid’s iPhone Attack Will Work

By  |  Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 10:42 am

droiddoesVerizon is spending a lot of money advertising its upcoming Droid smartphone. It’s everywhere–from commercials on TV to bills posted on construction sites. But I question whether the iPhone-mocking focus of the ad campaign can generate broad appeal.

The ads target the iPhone’s shortcomings, such as its lack of a camera flash and the rigid application development limitations imposed by Apple. They include statements about the iPhone such as “‘iDon’t have a real keyboard,” “iDon’t allow open development,” and “iDon’t run simultaneous apps.'” Those points resonate with me, because I’m a member of the tech punditocracy.

The question is, does the average user care about things such as open development? I’m an iPhone owner, and Apple’s draconian policies don’t really affect my overall experience. There are still plenty of apps to choose from. I haven’t met too many disaffected iPhone users, probably because the user experience–while imperfect–is pretty great.

Beyond the jailbreaking crowd and some grumblings about Google Voice, I have never heard anyone complain that he or she didn’t have all of the applications that he or she wanted on the iPhone. Verizon’s clumsy wording doesn’t help either. The message would be more effective as something like “iDon’t permit all the apps you want.”

Verizon’s playful advertising campaign keeps the Droid fresh in my mind, and initial buzz on the device is favorable. I might consider buying it when I need a new device. However, that would involve switching carriers, and would leave much of my iTunes music library orphaned. My music, video and phone are all-in-one now, and I do not want to have to carry around a separate iPod.

I chose to buy Apple’s DRM music format, as well as to be locked into AT&T’s network. Aside from some intermittent dropped calls, and poor reception in areas that Verizon fully covers, I’m happy with my decision. If I’m a hard sell, I’d venture that people who don’t care about things like running simultaneous apps aren’t really getting what’s so special about the Droid.


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30 Comments For This Post

  1. Bill Sanders Says:

    I agree. Apple has a very loyal fan base. Android won’t convert any of them. They’re probably going after the fence sitters, but comparing your product to the best in class immediately categorizes you as a pretender. They’d be better off telling everyone what they are, not what they are not.

  2. GR Says:

    You said “I chose to buy Apple’s proprietary music format…”

    The AAC Audio format used by Apple on the iTunes store (DRM free) is not proprietary. It is an open standard audio format.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    Dave will chime in, but I took the reference to proprietary formats to mean music with Apple’s FairPlay DRM–stuff he purchased prior to Apple’s move away from DRM. The Droid will play unprotected AAC, but not copy-protected files.


  4. Gary Says:

    I agreee with your iPhone-mocking angle. Apple’s PC-mocking advertising dosen’t work either. Negative ads like that don’t work. Droid owners will be in the minority just like Mac owners.

  5. Daniel Says:

    Verizon adds don’t resonate in the same way that the apple’s ads do cause their products don’t reach to the masses. The people who do get excited are the ones that for many kept being excited by Windows CE. The ones that get excited about the hardware more than anything. Look how the same group of people looked down upon the iPhone when it came out. Comments out were that hardware were below specs, that the current phone they owned was able to do it, there wasn’t any apps for it, etc. Now this same group is rallying around Droid in hopes of taking down the iPhone for what reason?

    Let us all agree the we owe Apple a great Thank You for moving us forward instead of the hate that it generates. They are the ones that showed what can truelly be done when style and function meet. Let us take what Apple has shown us and be inspired to truely make either Apple or Andriod something really awe inspiring for all.

  6. Paul Says:

    Gary: Apple’s sales figues regarding macs sold seem to indicate that their ads actually do work. Attack ads are really effective if you use the right forms of attacking (saying that PCs’ are more virus prone for example). The Droid ads attack the iPhone, but they use arguments that mean very little to people and just come off as spiteful because they lack meat. Nobody cares enough about open development for it to be an issue that resonates, but PC infected with viruses does strike a chord.

    Apple’s ads are effective because the attacks are relevant to people. Mac sales agree with this.

  7. austi Says:

    Even if the Droid has a temporary technology/OS advantage, Apple will quickly close the gap. The real question is how does it compare with the iPhone’s applications support. I would not even consider the Droid unless popular apps that I use everyday like NeuroMobile and others were available on the Droid. While it does not need the 100K apps that apple “claims”, it will need to get the more popular ones ported to its platform to be able to compete.

  8. Mike Cerm Says:

    While I agree that the ad campaign is fairly pointless (I don’t think it will win over many iPhone users), I also think that it doesn’t really matter. Verizon has millions of loyal customers who have been clamoring for the iPhone, or any high-end smartphone. They will buy the Droid, because it’s the best they can get.

  9. tengeta Says:

    I think you overestimate the brain of the average buyer, for the sad majority a commercial does all the talking whither the device does the walk or not.

  10. Crewd Says:

    I don’t think you understand why Verizon has taken this path. The only credible smartphone on their network is the Blackberry Storm. They need some kind of answer for their existing customers who want a true smartphone. This is that answer. It’s nothing to do with converting iPhone users.

  11. Tech Says:

    I think the Droid phones will be much better than the iphone, but like you said they need to communicate this to the average user.

  12. dpme Says:

    But is there proof that the anti-PC Mac ads were the only reason why more people starting by Macs, or could it be other factors? For example, Best Buy started carrying iMacs and Macminis in 2006, and expanded the program in 2007. I don’t know if they were buying, but I saw a lot of people looking at the Macs went they went into our local Best Buy (in Arkansas, where the nearest Apple store is hundreds of miles away.

    I personally (and which means nothing, I know) find that one or two good clever ads are effective, but when you get to the 8th or 10th or 20th ad, I start tuning out. I thought the Mac anti-PC ads were stupid, and the Windows “I bought a laptop” were also stupid. The andriod ad was interesting, but they better start showing me more of what it is, rather than what the iPhone is not, or I will loose interest.

  13. iPhone Round Up Says:

    Competitors will always do what they gotta do, which is to attack the other’s weaknesses. So be it. But iphone and droid will definitely have loyal followers of their own.

  14. bill Says:

    I for one don’t like being locked into one brand no matter how good it looks or serves me. Technology is too vast and ever changing, and I don’t want to watch cool stuff pass me by stuck in a rut..

  15. tom b Says:

    “I for one don’t like being locked into one brand no matter how good it looks or serves me. Technology is too vast and ever changing,”

    So, you are a LINUX-jockey and shun being stuck in the archaic world of MS Windows?

  16. bill Says:

    So, you are a LINUX-jockey and shun being stuck in the archaic world of MS Windows?

    Apple people are hopelessly stuck. I prefer to work with Linux, windows or what ever, free market and competition always produce the superior products. Controlled markets or people or products become stagnant and narrow minded, and eventually blind to the needs of the consumers.

  17. Bob Says:

    Droid from Moto is best device so far but it will take some good to come over iPhone. Android OS is the best feature in this phone.

  18. tom b Says:

    “Apple people are hopelessly stuck”

    I’m stuck? Show me another company that puts out acceptable product. In Phones, the MOTO Droid looks designed by committee (perhaps later efforts will be better). In OS’s, if you want an acceptable experience, with regards to security and performance, you need to go UNIX, and OS X is less trouble to maintain than LINUX. I can even set my wife up with OS X and I won’t need to do much support.

  19. Alex Says:

    From what I’ve seen of the iPhone, it works well in major cities, but a lot of people in smaller areas either can’t get it or have had bad experiences with it. Where I live Verizon is king because it has a network that is much more capable than AT&T’s. I expect that the Droid could be fairly popular here if it works as advertised.

  20. tehpeng Says:

    “Nobody cares enough about open development for it to be an issue that resonates”

    I care very much, and junked my iphone and switched to tmo when the g1 came out. Apple’s advantage is a nearly seamless UI. Since droid is open source there will be, and are, plenty of apps for it. It shares quite a few with the iphone already. Personally I don’t like being locked into apple’s tightly controlled “apple experience” if I want to use my droid as a wireless hotspot for my laptop, a telnet or ssh access device, gps, or even a text editor I can.

    I don’t expect the average user to be like me, but I do in fact love open source, and while there are a couple of things I miss about the iphone(better 3g coverage than tmo mainly), I wouldn’t ever switch back.

    My droid can handle multiple processes, it sent mms the minute I got it, I can use google apps etc. Also the hardware specs on the verizon droid blow the iphone 3g out of the water. Not that the average english major cares.

  21. Stephen Says:

    Charging an EXTRA $15 per month just to use Exchange Mail on the new Android phone will not likely help their cause!

  22. dean miller Says:

    @Bill Sanders, I agree wid U dude… dere are so much hype about dis droid!.. dey should concentrate just on wat are dey offering…

  23. Chris daniels Says:

    You do realise you can convert your library to mp3 from within iTunes itself?

  24. C. Hart Says:

    Hopefully, the Droid will get Apple off the bench on the development front. There are a basket full of improvements that need to be done for the current iPhone interface (for example, calendar scheduling from within the contact list). What we (iPhone users) are glamored with is Apple initial design but the train has almost stop. Yes, yes, I know some of you will talk about the upgrades offerrf in 3.0 but really, didn’t you expect most of them? When is Apple going to get ahead of the curve?

  25. Jeremy Says:

    The iPhone attack reinforces that the Droid is competitive, even “better” for those who have other reasons to prefer non-Apple products. In this case, I prefer a non-ATT product, and I think that’s the key element in this fight. I know iPhone users who hate the service they get from AT&T, and Verizon users who will never switch.

    If Droid is “comparable” to an iphone, it will sell like hotcakes to those of us who have been holding out.

  26. r4 ds Says:

    Ya you Think very correct the Droid’s iPhone Attack Will note Work.I a,agree with you.

  27. ross Says:

    Apple may decide what apps get final blessing, but in a way that is helpful, because a lot of under-educated consumers will put half-baked apps onto an Android phone and not know why their phone now crashes or freezes (this is already happening with Droid), but Apple (and MS, who not only don’t allow open development for their Zune HD but produce each and every app you will every buy for it themselves) will protect the non-techie from installing garbage onto their phone and jeopardizing the seamless, reliably good experience that iPhone is.

  28. Chris Says:

    Here’s what concerns me about the “open” format on the Droid. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can develop applications for the phone. Then they hype the Droid’s ability to run more than one app at a time. What happens when two or more of these android apps don’t get along?

    Phone crashes? Locks you out? Who’s developing this stuff? Will we at some point see apps being delivered through the Android store with viruses or worms embedded in them?

    Maybe these are unreasonable concerns, but they are my concerns about the Wild West software development for Android. It seems like there should be a middle ground between Apple’s behind the iron curtain approach, and something totally open.

  29. mattoo Says:

    I think Verizon’s adds are no different than Apples Bash campaign against the Windows based PC, and don’t think Pauls comment about Verizon’s adds being spiteful, and not many people care about open source apps, well I have to say there are a lot of people who do care about that, and a lot of developers will be happy not having to jump through hoops to making an app that has to be approved by apple; secondly Verizon’s main emphasis in there adds are pointing out how shotty AT&T’s 3G service is, and that strikes a chord with a lot of people. Having a iphone is meaningless when you don’t have the service to fully utilize it where ever you might go.

  30. r4 ds Says:

    While the droid was "ok" in comparison to the iPhone. I fear unless there is an iphone 5, or iphone 4gs or something to that effect, android phones, with dual core processors are going to beat out the iphone 4 on many levels.. but only time will tell of course.

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