Daniel Eran Dilger
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Verizon V Cast Music with Rhapsody: We LG Dare You To Hate It!

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Daniel Eran Dilger
Quick, what’s wrong with this ad for Verizon Wireless’ Rhapsody music subscription service? Well first off, subscription music is already unpopular enough without promoting it as a service with “a lot of song you’ll hate, but you can dig through to find others you wont.” Oh, but there’s much more wrong with “America’s Most Entertaining Network.”
The Lucky Goldstar Phone
The phone being promoted in the ad is an LG Chocolate 3. This is the phone LG originally modified for the US market to look like an iPod using a fake click wheel. The latest version now looks like an iPod running Front Row (below) with Apple’s iTunes tune icon, an iCal calendar, and an Image Capture camera. At least LG had the decency to copy the Adobe Photoshop Elements daisy icon rather than ripping off the iPhoto palm tree.

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Incidentally, LG is the same company that loudly accused Apple of copying its Prada phone with the iPhone, as if Apple whipped up the iPhone’s design in three months based entirely on LG’s long since forgotten Flash Lite-based “luxury phone” that did nothing special. At least they both were rectangular and black. Oh wait, the iPhone was actually rounded with chrome frame and a silver back, and didn’t look like a Sony product from the late 80s.

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And then there was the user interface of the Prada, which nobody paid much attention to because there wasn’t much to talk about. And while everyone wept bitterly about the original iPhone’s lack of 3G service in the US, the LG Prada phone was being sold as a $700 GSM phone in Europe (and only Europe), where 3G UMTS was already well established and considered a bigger factor among buyers. Unlike the iPhone, the Prada had no redeeming user interface polish or web browser savvy to make up for its technical limitations.

Apple iPhone vs LG Prada KE850

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Verizon has just gotten its hands on the Prada phone under the new LG Dare branding (it has also been sold by AT&T as the Vu and in Europe as the Viewty), and its seen some significant updates in the meantime: a better camera than the iPhone with video capture, CDMA-style 3G, and it now has a 3.5mm headphone jack like the iPhone debuted with.

However, the Dare is still a Flash Lite clunker with an unusable toy web browser, a smaller, lower resolution display with less color depth that uses a “fingernail mash” pressure tap screen rather than a responsive, multitouch capacitance screen like the iPhone. And it even lacks WiFi, thanks to Verizon, which also charges users an extra $10 a month to use its GPS maps feature.

The Dare “feature phone” isn’t setting any sales records, so Verizon is associating its Rhapsody music ads with the cheaper and even less smart Chocolate 3. In the ad, Verizon replaced its screen with a blank placeholder, but as long as they’re Photoshopping the thing to polish away the ugly truth, how about also de-emphasizing the fact that the headphone cable moronically pokes out of the side of the unit, making it clumsy to throw in your pocket like a real iPod?

And how about at least moving that huge Soviet-looking plastic bulge on the headphone cord out of the shot, and printing the ad titles over the top of the cheap looking mic/switch? And do the earbuds really project that far out of your ears when listening to music you hate?

 Wp-Content Uploads 2008 08 Iphone3G-Review2-2

Inside iPhone 2.0: iPhone 3G vs. other smartphones

Rhapsody on a Mac?
Also comical is the fact that the ad is promoting Rhapsody’s Windows Media-based subscription music service on a MacBook Pro. If you go to the Rhapsody site, clicking on their software download button doesn’t even ask what platform you have, or inform you that its Windows only; it simply shoves a .EXE at you in a “take my wife… please!” sort of way.

Is Verizon now kicking itself for rebuffing Apple’s original attempts to partner with it to deliver the iPhone? At least it can still use a Mac laptop and an iPod-mimicing cell phone to promote a brain dead music service as being “a lot of crap you wont like, but maybe some you will!”

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  • nat

    Sheesh, the whole thing looks fake. Take away her hand holding the phone and the headphones.

    If any of it’s real, I wonder what her facial expression is supposed to say about the music? The photographer must have been like “Hmm, well most of the music isn’t actually worth listening to, so could you give me your best ‘meh’ face?”

  • VernK

    Dude, finally I get to quibble, lol.

    It’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack, not a 3.5″ jack.

    Keep up the good work.

    Yours
    Vern

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    Strange, strange ad.

    “Meh face”, agreed. Certainly not the typical shot of unbridled joy you expect to see in advertising…

    Oh and nice Vista-esque yucky green as the background.

    “Don’t worry about it. With so much attention to detail going on here … wrong or right doesn’t matter!”

  • http://all.net/ hylas

    I’ve noticed this trend in stock photography (in the above photo), this type of niche 1970s / dark paneling / avocado green – in a weird porno type of aura – trend (? – for a lack of better words). There is something disturbing that seems to permeate it’s use in advertising, or it could be just some young hipster that’s too young to know.
    Forced.

    Meh, anyway …

    “If you go to the Rhapsody site, clicking on their software download button doesn’t even ask what platform you have, or inform you that its Windows only; it simply shoves a .EXE at you in a ”take my wife… please!“ sort of way.”

    Coffee came out my nose.

  • got nate?

    Those headphones look an awful lot like the Skull Candy iPhone FMJ headphones i have. I hate them, they are so much more style than substance. They sound better than the apple phones but the apple phones are both more comfortable and have a usable clicker!

  • bartbons
  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    In my five years on the Mac, I’ve been offered more .exe’s than the old guy with a trophy wife at a swingers party.

  • fatbarstard

    I don’t know… it might be a ‘meh’ face, but then she looks like she is hearing a big pile of crap from some guy about why he missed her birthday and she is about to punch him in the face..

    And no one stands like that, ever! Clearly the marketing juniors got hold of this one and were given some rope to go hang themselves….

    So the deal is that you by a crap phone, download a crap music service with loads of crap you don’t want (but some you might… crap that is) and headphones that look like they are from the 1970s…

    Oh joy…. let me throw up now??

  • nat

    “So the deal is that you buy a crap phone, download a crap music service with loads of crap you don’t want (but some you might… crap that is) and headphones that look like they are from the 1970s…”

    Yeah, I just can’t comprehend why LG would essentially admit there’s actually bad music to be had. I mean, I love iTunes, but there’s a good helping of corporate pop, corporate rap, and corporate rock, yet Apple never mentions it (probably due to their tense relationship with three of the Big Four labels).

    It’ll be nice when we finally see iTunes and its competitors being compared based on artist/band selection/variety, rather than who offers the most songs and has the largest selection of DRM-free music; the latter metric will cease to matter once the big labels stop colluding against iTunes.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @ nat

    You just made me think. When was the last time a record store succeeded based on not selling crap? It’s not as though anything but the most niche shop would make a point of screening out records based on their taste. We as consumers just don’t expect that sort of thing, and sense it to be snobbery in fact. We want to walk in and know that the selection is big enough we can find what we individually want.

    The App Store is turning out to be quite like that. I made the popular mistaken assumption that Apple would screen the apps available by a combination of security, contractual obligation and … essentially taste. But they did not. Handy Randy and other monstrosities were there for launch day.

    The idea seems to be much more like iTunes than I expected. We’re not talking about limited shelf space in Apple’s own physical shops. Or necessarily Apple’s brand of approval. But instead the vast scale and selection of iTunes, itself based on the experience in any sufficiently vast record store.

    Back to your point though: of course even conceding that there’s crap in there is a ludicrous idea to slap on an advert! I couldn’t argue with that.

  • KenC

    While the daisy icon looks like Photoshop Elements, don’t forget the Photos icon on the iPhone is also a daisy. Why couldn’t LG use a rose or other flower? Why a daisy? Remember that Samsung phone from a couple years ago that copied the Mac’s icons so well that they had to remove them?

  • KenC

    Okay, I realize the flower icons were sunflowers! Why does everyone have to copy Apple’s sunflower? Or is everyone copying Van Gogh?

  • nat

    @ John Muir,

    Yeah, I certainly don’t want Apple screening out music, movies, apps, etc. that they don’t particularly care for. While iTunes has a great variety of content, in the music category, they’re being held back by three of the Big Four labels, who are only offering their music in DRM-free form through competing stores like Rhapsody, Amazon, and SkyTunes (that last one’s pretty new). What bugs me is how some of the tech media pundits talk about these iTunes alternatives as if Amazon and Rhapsody’s music catalogs are equal to iTunes’ catalog in terms of variety/selection of music artists, which simply isn’t the case. These stores lack a lot of the indie artists iTunes has. Just seems like the media is going off the number of songs and saying “wow, and it’s DRM-free,” instead of considering what’s actually being offered.

    The big labels will likely give up their ineffectual games soon, thus the DRM vs. DRM-free argument will finally come to an end. When that happens the playing field will be very level and then we can move onto more telling metrics for comparing these different music stores. Who has the best indie selection? Who has the most artists? The most albums per artist? The best promotional deals? Who gets the new releases up on the store the fastest? Who offers more “classic” bands?

    And then of course, they could focus on things like each store’s ease of navigation, visuals, etc.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @ nat

    I think you’re giving the media and the labels too much credit! The labels are *scared* of iTunes. It doesn’t let them screw around with pricing. It doesn’t let them differentiate by schmaltzy means in general … being such a level playing field for content as it clearly is. They sense that power Apple has over their bottom line. And, boy, do they not like it one bit.

    Meanwhile, the media just loves to cry: “boo! Apple do DRM and the other guys don’t! bad Apple, bad!” Why? Because it’s a cheap way to “balance” a story which would otherwise so often be unmitigated success for Apple while their rivals struggle. It’s also music to the ears of anyone with a real agenda too.

    I’m not paranoid about the media by the way. I largely follow the Fake Steve school of journalist’s nature … itself quite similar to Hunter S. Thompson’s. They’re people with a job to do. And being lazy about it is always just such a tasty option.

    Same for the labels!

  • nat

    “I think you’re giving the media and the labels too much credit! ”

    Ha, I guess I am. :D

    I mean, the big labels are so mentally bankrupt, they think the average consumer who buys their music actually cares, or even understands what DRM is! :D Meanwhile, those of us who do want DRM to be removed from all music generally don’t care for most of their transient pop artists anyway and of course, are aware of the ability to remove FairPlay through CD burning and reimporting.

    It’s just tiring to hear the DRM issue brought up again and again and again, in a desperate attempt to prove the success of the iPod and/or iTunes is due to FairPlay.

  • shoopylove

    For me, it’s a crying shame that Apple didn’t hook up with Verizon rather than AT&T. Their service is so much better than AT&T in my area and I’m way too tied to them – so many of my close friends and relatives are Verizon customers. Too bad they do the network thing so well, otherwise they might have felt compelled to grab they iPhone when they had the chance, and I would be a happy Verizon customer with a sweet phone right now.

    Alas…

  • http://bigsendworld.com bigsend

    Personally, I can’t stand Rhapsody. I hattteeee that program :( :(

    Every time I make playlists, only 1 of them actually transfers to the phone. So say I make a playlist for “classical” “workout” “misc” and i make all them the same way, only one of them ends up on the phone.

    Rhapsody is slow, clunky, takes forever to do anything.

    Does anyone know of alternatives that I can use to make playlists—unfortunately its got to make playlists. I tried Windows Media Player but I don’t think its capable of that.

    Thanks
    BigSend
    http://bigsendworld.com