A while back I criticized AT&T's decision to sue Verizon because some of its TV advertisements show that Verizon's 3G coverage map is superior to AT&T's. AT&T tried to claim that the ads imply that AT&T's broader (non-3G) data coverage map is as sparse as its 3G map, even though the commercials clearly indicated the map was for AT&T's 3G coverage. I thought the lawsuit was ill-conceived, because AT&T was sure to lose, and it showed the company's desperation. It turns out AT&T must have finally realized the suit was a losing proposition, because it dropped it.
On Wednesday, AT&T formally dismissed the lawsuit. Last month, the wireless operator suffered a major legal setback when a judge rejected the company's request to force Verizon to pull its "There's A Map For That" advertising campaign.
To me, this indicates that AT&T may have brought the suit hoping that some dumb judge would honor its request to force Verizon to pull the ad. It may never have intended to even ultimately win the suit. But since the judge didn't even humor that initial request, the company probably decided there was no point in pursuing it further. And now it has egg on its face for bringing the suit in the first place.
If you watch any TV, then you've probably seen AT&T's response to the map commercials: a new ad campaign featuring comedic actor Luke Wilson. Here's one of those ads where Wilson throws postcards all over a map of the U.S. in an attempt to show that AT&T really does cover the entire U.S.:
A nice trick, since any given postcard is much larger in size than the actual city it represents on the map: just because the map is covered in postcards doesn't necessarily mean that the entire geography of the U.S. has coverage.
Instead of wasting its money on hiring famous actors to dispute a legitimate ad from Verizon, AT&T might be smart to use that money to instead invest in its network infrastructure. As I mentioned yesterday, if it doesn't begin strengthening its network across the nation, new smartphones like the Droid could begin diminishing its iPhone advantage.
It turns out that AT&T's decision to dismiss the suit has prompted Verizon to also drop a lawsuit it filed in response to AT&T's. Verizon suit claimed that AT&T's "more bars in more places" ads were inaccurate. It's possible that AT&T realized that Verizon's lawsuit held more validity than its own, so it hoped Verizon would kill its suit through a goodwill gesture. But I still think it's more likely that AT&T realized its lawsuit would go nowhere.