More recently, Verizon kept up the pace and attacks on AT&T with several 3G coverage ads on a Christmas theme, most notably one that invokes "Misfit Toys" and a "Dolly for Sue," who say that the iPhone with AT&T 3G will fit in well in their dysfunctional world. Following up the Christmas ad series, Verizon last week released another that features reindeer.
If the ads didn't help keep lawyers and advertisers for both companies busy and employed, they kept many people laughing, including Ellison, who found the humor has worked strategically in the fierce battle between the nation's two largest carriers.
"It's hard to argue that 'A Dolly for Sue' on the 'Island of Misfit Toys' Verizon commercial is defaming your brand, especially when judges and regulators are iPhone users too and well aware of AT&T's network coverage issues," Ellison said in an e-mail. "AT&T had already lost the PR war before Verizon got so creative and charming in its advertising; withdrawing the lawsuit simply recognizes that."
Indeed, the lawsuits and the ads show just how competitive the nation's two largest carriers are. And in another sense, they also underscore how rabid customers are for smartphones and good network coverage.
The whole battle has also underscored an even more sobering reality about the need to continually beef-up wireless networks to give an expanding number of smartphone users reliable use of more bandwidth-hungry applications.
That reality is, basically, that as devices demand more wireless bandwidth, the carriers are going to be racing for many years to come to keep apace with the user demand.
Today, it might be Verizon boasting of five times the 3G coverage area of AT&T, but if Verizon gets to sell the iPhone some day, atop of multiple wireless devices and netbooks, one has to wonder when its customers are going to face service disruptions.
In other words, today's actions might seem like a victory for Verizon, but given the level of U.S. competition, will Verizon be able to crow as loudly three or five years from now?