What Do Verizon's New Anti-iPhone Ads Mean For AT&T?

There's been a lot of press this week about Verizon's new anti-iPhone ads. The most notable is made on behalf of smartphones utilizing Google's new Android operating system. Some find this and other anti-iPhone ads bad, claiming they're ineffective. I hate them for another reason: they might indicate dashed hopes for iPhone users who thought Apple would utilize Verizon as an additional service provider, ending AT&T's exclusivity.

First, here's that Android ad if you haven't seen it:

And here's another Verizon ad that clearly targets the iPhone and AT&T: (I apologize for the low quality video, but it's the best I could find.)

These ads make clear that the iPhone is in Verizon's crosshairs. No doubt it's tired of losing market share to AT&T and has decided to take the gloves off. But there have been many rumors that AT&T's exclusivity may finally be ending in 2010. At that time Apple is rumored to be opening up the iPhone to more carriers. I think these commercials cast doubt on this possibility.

Rita Chang over at Advertising Age makes this observation, and I completely agree:

Whatever rumors were brewing a few months ago that Apple would break its exclusivity with AT&T and take its iPhone to other carriers, it's a good bet they can be put to bed for now.

Verizon is definitely burning bridges with Apple over these ads. I can't imagine how there could still be a possibility that Verizon is in the running as an additional service provider for the iPhone. This could mean one of two things: either AT&T will maintain full exclusivity at least through 2010 or other service providers will be used -- just not Verizon.

I'm extremely doubtful that Apple will want to allow AT&T to be their sole provide forever. I noted this back in August. They've got multiple carriers in other markets, and their sales would be even better if other service providers were included.

But the second possibility seems equally strange: why would they eliminate Verizon? Many people consider it to have the best network. In my experience, it's much better than T-mobile. I've never used Sprint, but people I know who have weren't impressed with its network either. Would the iPhone really benefit from the ability to utilize two more inferior service providers? Frankly, I'd stay with AT&T unless Verizon were an option.

So I'm not sure what to believe. These commercials definitely indicate that Verizon must be out of the running, at least in the near-term. But what, then, is Apple's plan for answering iPhone users gripes about the poor network?