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Wednesday, August 27, 2008, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Apple iPhone ad banned in UK due to "misleading" claims

Advertising regulators in the UK have ruled that one of Apple's iPhone television commercials mislead customers and ordered it banned from further broadcast.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it received complaints from two local viewers who took issue with a claim in the 30-second spot which stated that "all the parts of the internet are on the iPhone."

That assertion was misleading, they said, because the iPhone does not support Flash or Java, two proprietary technologies that sometimes prove integral in the display of certain web pages.

When contacted by the ASA, Apple said it built the Safari web browser on the iPhone using open standards, and that it could not reasonably assure compatibility with every third party plug-in or technology on the market.

The Cupertino-based company also argued that the reference in the ad to "all parts of the internet" was simply aimed at highlighting Internet site availability, not to every aspect of functionality available on every website.

The ASA noted Apple's argument that the ad was about site availability rather than technical detail, but considered in its deliberation that the claims "Youll never know which part of the internet youll need" and "all parts of the internet are on the iPhone" implied users would be able to access all websites and see them in their entirety.

"We considered that, because the ad had not explained the limitations, viewers were likely to expect to be able to see all the content on a website normally accessible through a PC rather than just having the ability to reach the website," the watchdog said in a statement. "We concluded that the ad gave a misleading impression of the internet capabilities of the iPhone."



Specifically, the ASA ruled that the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.1 (Evidence) and 5.2.2 (Implications). It has banned the commercial from further broadcast in its current form.

Readers interested in the backstory to Flash and its absence on the iPhone should check out AppleInsider's three-part series Flash Wars.