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Thursday, July 30, 2009, 08:45 am PT (11:45 am ET)

U.K. regulatory board backs Apple App Store ad claims

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority ruled this week that Apple has the right to say in commercials that there is software for "just about everything" on its iPhone App Store.

The ASA reviewed the advertisements from Apple and wireless carrier O2 after the board received 10 complaints from viewers. Those who complained said that the HTC G1 and Android Marketplace offer a range of applications, just like the iPhone.

Apple U.K. responded to the ASA and said that the iPhone has many more applications available on it than the G1 has. Currently, there are more than 65,000 programs available in 88 countries on the App Store, while the Apple U.K. told the ASA there are around 2,100 Android programs offered in nine countries.

"They emphasised that the iPhones Multi-Touch functionality was more advanced than any competing functionality and allowed users to perform actions such as 'pinch-to-zoom' and 'swipe-to-scroll,'" the ASA ruling reads. "They said that because of its reputation, many brands and developers launch their applications only on the App Store."

The ASA determined that the advertisement was not misleading. While some of the applications shown in the commercial are available on other mobile platforms, the board ruled that the iPhone is the only location where consumers could access such a variety of options.

"We therefore considered viewers would understand the claim 'Only on the iPhone' to refer to the range of apps available and the user experience of the App Store and iPhone, and not that they were the only company to provide applications for mobile phones," the ruling reads. "Because Apple had shown there were far more applications available for the iPhone than the G1 phone, and user-experience of the iPhone and the app store was distinct from its competitor, we concluded the claim "Only on the iPhone" was justified and not misleading."

The regulatory board can be particularly hard on advertising in the U.K., where advertising claims must meet a much higher standard than in the U.S. Just last year, the ASA ruled that Apple had to change a "misleading" commercial that claimed that "all 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.

The ASA last year determined the claims "You'll never know which part of the internet you'll 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.