COMMENT: Apple has snubbed the new motorola rokr itunes phone by not turning up at the Australian launch. Even Motorola boss Ed Zander has admitted that Apple will do their own SmartPhone sand that Motorola is most probabally being used as a guinea pig.
The snub is a slap in the face for Motorola, who also had to put up with the arrogant Apple boss Steve Jobs upstaging the world launch of the iTunes phone by announcing the new, ultra thin iPod nano at the same time that Motorola was launching the iTunes phone.
When we questioned Motorola’s PR company about the absence of Apple executives at the Australian launch they assured me that Apple had been invited. “We were expecting Rob Small, Apple’s marketing manager” they said. But Small failed to show.
TheCEO of Motorola has even claimed that it is only a matter of time before Apple makes its own smart phone. ‘We know they are going to build a smart phone,’ Ed Zander said at the Technology Review’s Emerging Technologies Conference.Zander’s surprising claim came after he had been widely quoted after apparently slamming Apple’s iPod nano.’Screw the Nano,’ he is reported to have said. ‘What the hell does the Nano do? Who listens to 1,000 songs?’
The fact is that Apple is one of the most arrogant, stuck-up computer companies in the world, and yet for years it has failed to make it in the PC market. In fact it never owned more than two per cent of the global desktop PC market and at one stage it had to be bailed out by Microsoft to the tune of $450 million. This was a stage in Apple’s life when it actually became quite humble and was half decent to deal with.
Then along came the iPod and overnight the arrogance was back. So it’s no real surprise that Apple snubbed the Australian launch of the Rokr – which is not the flashiest of phones. It’s basically an older Motorola phone running a stripped-down version of an iTunes capable of storing up to 100 songs.
For Steve Jobs, the thought of someone else getting kudos for an iTunes phone would have been hard for him to swallow. So, instead of giving Motorola a clean run at launching the phone with Apple’s blessing, Jobs chose to launch the new iPod at the same time, knowing full well that the following publicity would take away from Motorola’s launch of their new phone.
After more than a year of false starts and rampant speculation, the world now has an iTunes phone and, while many expected a sleek, elegant device that would put all other mobile phones to shame, all we got was an ugly device that is in no where near the same league as the stunning Motorola Razr phone.
But maybe Apple wanted it this way. Rumour has it that they are still working on an Apple-branded phone – the iPhone, as it is often referred to. The big problem for Apple is that, whichever way they go, they need a phone company partner as they have no phone expertise. One logical choice is BenQ, who for many years have made Motorola phones as well as devices for Nokia.
The deal struck with Motorola leaves the door open for Apple to eventually license its iTunes client to other phone vendors as well (though it’s rumored that Motorola has exclusive rights to iTunes for at least a year).
With the market for mobile music – ring tones and songs downloaded to mobile phones over the air – expected to be worth as much as $10 billion by the end of the decade, it’s no wonder that there’s so much interest in becoming the leader in the mobile music market. The difficulty in creating its own phone without alienating carriers has kept Apple from creating the iPhone many were hoping for.
The relationship with Motorola could well be a deliberate dry run to see how the market reacts to an iTunes phone, while in the background Apple has already worded a contract that allows them to dump Motorola when they like and go to market themselves.
Apple could also launch its own virtual network, and there would be nothing keeping it from creating its own handset. Certainly it has a rabid enough customer base and clear understanding of the consumer market to do so.
In the meantime, Apple have done the next best thing – its iTunes client is out there, and it will start drumming up interest in music on mobile phones. It may not be the best-looking phone on the market, but it’s a start and is likely just a precursor of things to come.