By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
August 27, 2008

Even with its flaws, the iPhone is pretty impressive. But from the first, Apple’s TV ads for the device have made it look a little better than it is. Maps pop up without any annoying delay. Apps download almost instantly. Calls are never ever dropped.

Now a government agency has called the company on it. According to reports in the
Guardian
and the BBC, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that one of Apple’s TV spots misleads consumers and ordered the company to stop airing it in the U.K.

The ad, which showed a weather forecast, stock prices, vacation spots and a map to Heathrow airport, included a voiceover that read:

“You never know which part of the Internet you’ll need … which is why all the parts of the Internet are on the iPhone.”

At least two viewers complained to the watchdog agency that because the iPhone doesn’t support Flash or Java, there are many parts of the Internet that can’t be viewed through the device’s Web browser. The ASA agreed, concluding that “the ad gave a misleading impression of the internet capabilities of the iPhone.”

According to the Guardian, Apple argued that none of the content in the ad was Java or Flash-based and that the line “all parts of the internet” meant Web site availability, “not every aspect of functionality.”

You can view the ad here and judge for yourself.

Ironically, as Apple’s ad was being banned in Britain, Apple AAPL was being attacked in the United States for banning publication of a comic book on its App Store. See Murderdrome here.

For the text of the ASA’s ruling, click here.

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