Apple's Amnesia: Verizon Once Called iPhone the "iDon't"; Now They're Partners

Last Updated Jan 25, 2011 9:49 PM EST

Apple (AAPL), Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T), Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (DTEGY) have all staked out their positions for the coming iPhone war in their advertising. But to do so Apple and Verizon had to bury a hatchet: Two years ago, Verizon skewered the iPhone in its advertising as a broken toy that never worked properly, calling it the "iDon't" (video below).

All that is history, of course, as the Feb. 10 launch of the Verizon iPhone 4 approaches. Here's how it's shaking out:

  • Apple's new iPhone ad positions the phone as being identical on both Verizon and AT&T:
On paper -- or in PowerPoint presentations being shown in a conference room on an overhead projector, as the case may be -- each positioning looks reasonable enough. But in what will be the increasingly cluttered runup to the Feb. 11 Verizon iPhone launch date the cacophony will sound like only one thing: a thousand ads screaming something about iPhone.

That's not a surprise -- the arrival of the device on a different network was always destined to suck the air out of the room for competing marketers -- but it wasn't always this way.

In days of yore -- 2009, to be exact -- Verizon regarded the AT&T iPhone as a joke. Verizon made at least three commercials skewering AT&T's iPhone as next to useless. Two of those ads focused on AT&T's spotty service for the iPhone, but two of them also targeted the iPhone's shortcomings directly. One of called it a "misfit toy"; another described it as the "iDon't." In the phone business, today's mortal enemies are merely tomorrow's joint-venture partners, it seems. Here they are:


"Misfit Toys"

"There's a Map for That"