Talking tech since 2003

When the Apple iPhone was first announced in 2007, AT&T – the exclusive carrier of the much sought-after device at the time – went wild with advertisements.  Everywhere you turned, be it on the Internet or in real life, you were greeted by AT&T’s huge advertising campaign for the iPhone.  And while AT&T has indeed toned down the level of iPhone marketing they have done over the years, their marketing presence has still been stable throughout the last several years and through three subsequent product updates (the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4).  In combination with the advertising that Apple has done for the iPhone, this investment in marketing seems to have paid off for AT&T.

Earlier this year when the much-anticipated Verizon iPhone debuted, I honestly thought that we as consumers were going to see a similar all-out marketing campaign on Verizon’s part.  After all, Verizon and AT&T have been long-time nemeses, and it would have only made sense for Verizon to do a public victory dance of sorts and to lure in the market of users who had previously avoided the Apple iPhone because of the fact that it was exclusive to AT&T; a network that many viewed as sluggish, unreliable, and over-congested.   However, much to my surprise, we never saw Verizon take part in any sizable marketing campaign.  In fact, the wireless carrier seemed rather quiet about the whole situation.  With the potential of gaining (or at least upselling) millions of customers, I have honestly wondered why Verizon has yet to be aggressive with their advertising.

First and foremost, Verizon had less than perfect timing when it came to getting their hands on the iPhone.  You see, the current generation iPhone (the iPhone 4) had been on the market under AT&T for nearly nine months by the time the Verizon iPhone had finally become a reality.  Had Verizon opted to do a larger-scale advertising campaign for the iPhone 4 when it was officially announced for their network in early February of this year, the company would have set themselves up for looking outdated.  In the field of technology and consumer electronics, nine months is, after all, a big time gap.  Simply put, I don’t think that Verizon wanted to widely advertise the fact that they were indeed late to the party when it came to the iPhone.

In terms of the actual mobile network, I believe a lot of people were genuinely convinced that Verizon was (significantly) faster than AT&T’s looked down upon network.  But when head-to-head tests between the Verizon iPhone and the AT&T iPhone showed that Verizon’s acclaimed network was in fact slower than AT&T’s network, Verizon ended up with its tail between its legs.  You see, Verizon had previously been seen as having a faster network than AT&T, and when that theory was disproved, I feel that Verizon lost the one leg that they were standing on.  With this in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Verizon decided to lay low with the iPhone 4 simply to keep themselves out of the spotlight and to prevent themselves from receiving bad press.

Aside from their network flaws, I believe that Verizon lack of marketing with the iPhone is simply a business strategy that indicates that the iPhone isn’t Verizon’s top priority at this stage in the game.  Having said this and having looked at the current advertisements and media campaigns that Verizon is running, we see that the company is indeed advertising smartphones, but simply not the iPhone.  Instead, we are seeing that Verizon is continuing to push Android-based smartphones – something that the company has become notorious for over the last couple of years.

What this tells me is that Verizon is continuing to cater towards Android-users, which seems to be their primary target audience right now.  By doing this, they are maintaining their reputation for having a large selection of Android-powered phones, all while still being able to sell the iPhone – a device that practically sells itself – to anyone who wants one on the Verizon network.

Verizon is definitely playing it safe by sticking to their well-known product line.  After all, Android-based smartphones have helped to get Verizon to the point that it is today.  However, I honestly believe that when Verizon is in a better position to market the iPhone – once they work on improving their mobile network and hopefully take on the fifth-generation iPhone at the same time as AT&T – they will go for it.  Right now, though, I think they’re playing it smart by not spinning their wheels when they do not have the advantage in the iPhone market.

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