Are we seeing the commoditisation of the iPhone in Asia?

Here in Malaysia it took time for the mobile service providers to agree terms with Apple to offer the iPhone to subscribers. But finally, Maxis signed up and has invested heavily over past year or so in traditional aquisition focussed marketing.

Recently, another provider, the aggressive and innovative provider, Digi signed an agreement with Apple and has started to promote the iPhone.

Last night, I was watching TV and was astonished to see first a Maxis ad for the iPhone, featuring the numerous applications (there’s one for just about everything) and then, I think separated by another commercial but possibly even back to back, the same commercial for the iPhone, featuring all the applications, this time with a Digi logo!

I have a number of reactions to this. Firstly, don’t advertising agencies know how to do a deal with a TV station anymore? If you can’t get an exclusive deal at least ensure no competitor products advertise on the same program.

Secondly, what are these telcos doing slugging it out in public on TV? Do’t they have any understanding of the iPhone and what it stands for and means?

Thirdly, these telcos are commoditising a valuable brand that deserves better. A more sophisticated approach for a sophisticated product that offers value for many people in many ways targetted at existing subscribers and personalised would be far more effective than a mass economy spray and pray approach!

Creating awareness via TVCs is a complete waste of money for a product such as the iPhone. If anyone out there is unaware of the iPhone, the applications and how they can add value to a person’s life, then that person is not the type of customer Apple, or the telcos want!


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