Verizon last night began running its first ad for its iPad + MiFi bundle in a sign that Apple may have reached a level of compromise for network deals. The ad shows using the 3G router to blow away the walls and remove limits by letting the iPad get online anywhere. It’s “all the magic” of the iPad but the “power and reliability” of Verizon’s 3G network, the 30-second spot says.
While the ad in itself doesn’t veer significantly from Apple’s usual message, that it was produced by Verizon and not Apple is a first for the iPad and for Apple itself. The electronics giant has always insisted on running its own ads for the iPad and iPhone, regardless of the carrier’s desires, and by allowing a Verizon ad may have been willing to make a sacrifice to expand its reach. In tablets alone, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is due to arrive at Verizon next week and has created pressure on Apple to lure shoppers away from its Android rival.
The ad has come just as rumors have swirled of a Verizon-capable iPhone being ready early next year after a years-long dispute over control of how and where it would launch. Most of the dispute centered over the since-abandoned revenue split and the distribution to resellers, but Verizon has historically tried to control phone marketing as much as possible, such as the Motorola Droid’s Times Square ads and its masculine TV ads for the rest of the Droid line. Allowing Verizon to produce an iPad ad may mean Apple was willing to cede a minor amount of control if it meant an iPhone deal and thus squelching Android’s impact in the US.
Publicly, Verizon has remained shy about confirming plans surrounding the iPhone and isn’t expected to have commentary on the significance of the iPad spot. While many rumors including prototype leaks have made a Verizon iPhone increasingly likely, the carrier is widely understood to be concerned about the “Osborne effect” of hurting sales of existing devices while customers wait for a product known to be shipping later.