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Can Apple--or Motorola--deliver a truly great cell experience?

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 6, 2005

Piper Jaffray has a report out saying that the new Rokr cell— a joint venture by Motorola and Apple—appears to be selling below expectations. Why am I not surprised? This iPhone doesn’t have Apple branding on it or the packaging, has an artificial 100 tunes limit built into it that is insulting and even the earbuds are off-the-shelf and not very special.

The real issues, however, is that neither Motorola nor Apple have a chance of delivering a terrific cell phone experience to users until the carriers give up their stanglehold on the ears of consumers. Naturally enough, the carriers want all the incremental service revenue that comes from music, movies, data or whatever flows through cell phones. But they’re only average delivering on that. Compared to service in Europe and Asia, they’re below average. The Rokr is not different.rokr

Apple succeeds when it has total control delivering the experience. The iPod is just the friendly front face of an amazing package of services—iTunes Music Store, Apple stores, music company agreements—that make people happy getting and managing their music. It can’t do that with cell phones because it can’t control the different parts—yet.

Motorola is actually in the same boat. Talk to people inside Motorola and they grumble all the time about partnering with carriers who won’t let them deliver what they are capable of delivering. Just one example—you can’t buy a Morotola phone with bluetooth in much of the country. Maybe all of the country. It drives the folks inside Motorola nuts.

What’s the solution? Apple and Motorola—and Samsung and Nokia— should move around the big carriers and do deals with new internet telephony providers. Hmmm. My guess is that they already are.

Reader Comments

Brian Murrell

October 7, 2005 7:46 AM

Agreed. How can a company that makes a really cool music player and a company that makes a really cool phone (the new Razr) make such a dog of a blended product? This is the jackalope of the tech world.


October 7, 2005 11:36 PM

Uh, the carriers have very little to do with the crappiness of the ROKR. It's purely Motorola's uninspired design. The RAZR is solid, but it's about the only decently designed phone Moto has released in ages. Rest of their stuff is pretty ugly, generic, and not particularly user friendly. Apple could have the same 100-song limit and absence of a cell-connected music store and STILL deliver something more desirable.

Stephen Stetler

October 8, 2005 5:35 PM

Even Motorola is aware that it's only a matter of time before Apple releases its own Smart Phone. But VERY good point on the carrier's stranglehold. Apple + Internet Telephony Providers ... now if that isn't a match made in heaven I don't know what is.

Robert McCulloch

October 11, 2005 2:30 PM

My Razr phone from Motorola is a Bluetooth phone I believe?

orlando seo

June 29, 2010 3:18 AM

GEEZ!I did a crazy long reply to your article but my internet cut out and I lost it all! Oh well, just wanted to tell you that it was a great post! Great job!

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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