Verizon airs first iPhone 4 ad as Feb. 10 sales date nears

Some say Verizon's move to add drama to its iPhone plans is a bit much; YouTube listed 155,000 views Friday afternoon

Verizon today aired its first video advertisement for the iPhone 4, which it will start selling on Feb. 10

The first Verizon Wireless iPhone commercial aired on Friday.

The video celebrates the patience of millions of customers who have waited nearly four years for the carrier to sell the phone on Feb. 10.

The 30-second video commercial began airing today on YouTube and registered 155,000 hits by 1 p.m. EST.

The video shows clocks ticking and anxious customers tapping fingers and feet. Then, a male voice says, "To our millions of customers who never stopped believing this day would come, thank you."

The commercial concludes with four frames of text separated by ticking sounds. The text reads: "iPhone 4 ... Verizon ... It begins ... 2.10.11 ..." The final image is Verizon's "Rule the Air" logo that's been seen in other recent commercials.

Adding drama to the already highly-dramatic arrival of the Verizon iPhone 4 seemed a bit much for some YouTube commenters. "You didn't need a commercial," wrote a commenter named Tonayie. "The whole world knows already."

Another commenter, @tnoyy34rt, a current owner of the iPhone 3G, added: "It's just a phone ... It really isn't that big of a social revolution ..."

And in rebuttal to those posts, @MrStephen920 argued that bringing the iPhone to Verizon: "... is a social revolution. It represents Apple's mission to bring power to even more people. Many Verizon users have been locked from experiencing the computer revolution until now."

AT&T has been the exclusive iPhone network provider in the U.S. since the device's unveiling in the spring of 2007. Since then, many iPhone users have complained about poor network coverage, especially in the New York and San Francisco areas.

Verizon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an array of TV commercials touting its network capabilities compared to AT&T's since 2007.

The new Verizon iPhone ad can be viewed as both Verizon milking its iPhone news for all it is worth, and a piling on of criticism of the AT&T network. The two carriers, each with more than 90 million subscribers in the third quarter of 2010, have each put the iPhone at the center of their battle for market share.

Even as Verizon works to build drama around its Feb. 10 iPhone launch, the carrier sis remaining silent about data pricing plans. A spokeswoman today said the data pricing will be among launch details still to be announced, but she didn't set a timeline.

Some observers have estimated that monthly Verizon iPhone data rates , including Personal Hotspot costs, could reach $120, others say the rates will be lower.

Meanwhile, bloggers today continued to predict the arrival date of the iPhone 5 . Some suggested it will be weeks later than the June date many expect because it will include many new features.

The dilemma for some potential Verizon iPhone customers has come down to whether they should buy the initial version on Feb. 10 or wait for a next-generation device that may support faster 4G LTE speeds.

Verizon's latest ad suggests that the wireless network matters as much as a device that's using it.

Analyst estimates vary on how many customers will leave AT&T for Verizon's iPhone in the next year. Many have said they expect 10% to 20% of iPhone customers to leave AT&T for Verizon once their current two-year contract expires.

The latest ChangeWave survey of 4,000 U.S. consumers showed 26% of iPhone owners would leave AT&T for Verizon.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.

This story, "Verizon airs first iPhone 4 ad as Feb. 10 sales date nears" was originally published by Computerworld .

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