Apple Comes to AT&T's Rescue

Apple iPhone 3G S
Apple iPhone 3G S

In a series of new ads airing tonight, Apple Inc. tries to come to carrier partner AT&T's rescue.

But is it too little too late?

For weeks, Verizon and Sprint have been having their way with AT&T and Apple's iPhone. One of the year's best commercials has to be the Verizon ad featuring the iPhone as the newest resident of The Land of Misfit Toys. The issue, and it certainly resonates, is that while AT&T might have a very nice 3G network, its coverage is rather limited when it compares to that offered by Verizon. The two even got into a legal spat because of Verizon's very clever "There's a 'Map' for That" campaign, comparing head to head the two carriers' 3G coverage nationwide.

AT&T's answer with actor Luke Wilson is a poor one. While Verizon highlights its 3G coverage superiority, AT&T is answering with an overall coverage area that just doesn't answer the question. Sure, AT&T has great national coverage, but it's 3G area still doesn't measure up.

Apple has been the collateral victim in all this.

As it has since signing that exclusive arrangement with AT&T, with the carrier constantly trying to play catch-up to iPhone's technical capabilities.

So Apple is fighting back on its own, launching a series of commercials that begin tonight, highlighting the one thing key thing that iPhone on AT&T can do that competitors, including those Android phones from Google , and other handsets running on Verizon and Sprint can't: Simultaneous voice and data communication. In other words, surf the web, get and receive email, text message all while you're talking on the phone without having to leave your voice conversation to do it.

It's such a simple message, but such a compelling one.

It's a capability that I take for granted, but rely on so much. Being on the phone and able to receive emails is key for me. Being on the speakerphone while sending emails of looking up information on the web is key for me. Not having that capability on Verizon and Sprint is a problem and it's about time that someone pointed it out. Amazing to me that Apple has to come to the rescue of AT&T, but sometimes you gotta take matters into your own hands.

All this is nice, and it promises to be an effective message for Apple. And AT&T. But in the end, it still doesn't address those dropped AT&T calls and its sub-standard 3G coverage. That's still gotta drive Apple nuts. But at least someone is starting to fight back with something that matters. Meantime, Verizon still has a winner on its hands when it comes to "There's a Map for That."

Questions? Comments?