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Monday, December 21, 2009, 05:50 am PT (08:50 am ET)

Apple becomes SNL punchline over iPhone network coverage

A joke about the iPhone's perceived poor cell service earned laughter and applause from the audience on a new episode of Saturday Night Live this weekend.

Comedian Seth Meyers on the program's "Weekend Update" segment noted reports from last week that Google allegedly intends to sell its own handset in 2010. That touchscreen device looks to compete with Apple's iPhone.

"It was reported this week that Google would soon launch its own cellphone as a challenge to the iPhone," Meyers said in the mock newscast. "Also a challenge to the iPhone? Making phone calls."

The joke earned cheers and laughter from the audience during the live broadcast, but has since gone well beyond to earn a noteworthy presence online. After being featured prominently on a number of Web sites, the 16-second clip has earned more than 140,000 views on YouTube as of Monday morning.

The joke also came a day after blogger Dan Lyons, under his comedic Fake Steve Jobs persona, had asked readers to overload AT&T's network to send a message to the company about its service. The one-hour event, in which users were asked to use bandwidth-heavy applications on their iPhone, did not have a major effect on the wireless provider's network.

Meyers' joke made no mention of AT&T, which usually receives the blame for dropped calls and spotty coverage on the iPhone in the U.S. Bad publicity was joined by criticism from competitor Verizon, and forced AT&T to engage in a advertising war with its rival to defend its network.