Sean Sperte

Goodbye, Moto

08 September 2005

Thanks for the little walk down memory lane, Mr. Motorola-exec-who-spoke-at-the-music-event, but I still don’t think Motorola has the gusto to match Apple’s wicked design style. The rest of the world is agreeing, and I’m not sure you’ll get those great “ARPU” stories you’re expecting. Goodbye, Moto. It’s the day after, and the word on the street is: nano = good, ROKR = lame. My initial reaction is basically the same. The long-awaited phone is falling below everyone’s expectations – even Steve’s own Keynote slide, which stated it was a quad-band GSM phone! (It’s actually a tri-band, North America GSM phone – with no 3G/EDGE capabilities.)

Motorola executive Ed Zander Ron Garriques was welcomed up on stage yesterday by Steve Jobs to make a few statements about the phone (the video stream of the event is now online). He gave a nice little history about how Motorola first came up with the “mobile radio” (and the crowd yawned), and bragged about how the ROKR is the coolest phone on the planet. Right. He also did a little bump-n-grind (which he says was cut short) to Gwen Stafani’s “Holla Back, Girl” playing on the phone’s stereo speakers. Thank you, Apple, for giving him an allotted time.

The ROKR is an embarrassment to Apple. Not only is it a step backwards in terms of Apple’s industrial design, the phone doesn’t even keep up with the emerging market of new 3G devices – the Sony Ericsson K750, Nokia N90 and even Motorola’s own RAZR. After handling an iPod nano today (of course I got my hands on one this soon!) I’m in embarrassed for Apple; that they’re partnered with Motorola. The nano is truly a step foward on the road of innovation, while the ROKR remains an ugly ketchup stain on Apple’s otherwise clean and tidy shirt. As a PC advocate and former Microsoft employee friend of mine suggested to me today, “it’d been better for Apple to not announce anything than this sub-standard phone.” He admitted to catching the Apple-fever as of late but was immediately disillusioned after checking out the ROKR’s specs yesterday after the announcement. What a shame.

I honestly hope Mr. Zander Garriques is correct, and they move millions of these units – but that’s not going to happen. The phone will sell its initial batch of luxury-buying and then, when those that bought tell their friends it sucks, and those friends tell their friends … well, let’s just say people listen to people, not advertising. Based on what I’ve heard of reaction so far, the outlooks seems dismal for Zander’s Garriques’ ARPU stories.

What Apple needs to do, in order to break free from this sinking sand of Motorola muck, is start developing the iTunes client for numerous manufacturer’s now. Samsung, Palm, Symbian, Sony Ericsson even. Get the client out there (like Real and Opera have done) and show the world they’re not “in bed” with Motorola, but rather, in the business of mobile technology innovation.

… that, and they need their own stinkin’ iPhone!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention how incredibly dull the unveiling of the phone actually was during the event. Does this look like excitement on Steve’s face?