T-Mobile Goes After the iPhone

NEW YORK T-Mobile rolled out a new TV ad campaign this week for its line of Shadow brand phones, which one analyst likened to a less-expensive version of the iPhone.

Positioned as “The Official Phone of Fun,” the T-Mobile Shadow is being promoted as a name that’s synonymous with easier communications, according to the company. Publicis in the West, Seattle, created the campaign.

The first spot airing shows how the Shadow can quickly access the Web to defuse an argument in real time. A subsequent ad shows a girl preparing her boyfriend with an on-phone slide show about all her quirky relatives prior to a family get-together. The spots conclude by pointing viewers to a new microsite, T-Mobileshadow.com.

“We expect them to do very well [with the Shadow]” said Ryan Reith, senior research analyst at consultancy IDC. “I think their offering is great in terms of bringing high-level functionality to a consumer focus.”

Reith went on to explain that both T-Mobile and manufacturer HTC were “in the drawing room together, from day one,” when the phone was being designed. The result was a phone “with features that consumers were looking for,” he said.

Asked how the Shadow compared with Apple’s iPhone, Reith said, “The price point is the difference. They offer the same functionality in a different sense.” He also said the Shadow offers a scroll wheel and a “nice music interface,” as well as voice dialing that’s “very friendly on the surface.”

Ads will appear on all the major networks, on high-profile shows such as Dancing With the Stars, House, CSI and Without a Trace, according to a rep at Publicis.

“We look at the Shadow as a phone-first device to provide fun, easy and rich communications,” said T-Mobile’s Michelle Webb. The slide-design unit sells for $149.99 with a two-year contract, she added. The iPhone currently retails for $399.

T-Mobile spent $595 million on ads in 2006 and $280 million in the first half of this year, per TNS Media Intelligence.