Friday, December 08, 2006

Can Apple fix Moto's Rokr?


OK, this ain't exactly interconnect stuff, but I am hungry for feedback on this one. Everywhere I go people say the music phone is one of the next big things in consumer electronics, but nobody has got it right yet. Not even giant Nokia whose music phone scares me it's so ugly.

Well, Apple set the tone in MP3 players with the iPod and in portable media players with the video iPod. OK, I give Sony plenty of credit for a tie here with the pricey PSP.

So is Apple up for a hat trick with the much rumored iPhone? I have more questions than answers.

What have music phones done wrong so far? What can Apple (or Sony if it could get its head out of its lithium ion) do right? What is the right consumer experience and what does that translate to in terms of silicon and software? And how would Apple avoid getting its design and revenue model ensnared in the tentacles of a Cingular and Verizon?

I'd love to hear what you think here or at rbmerrit@cmp.com.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you want exactly what the Blackberry Pearl is today, about the same size, just have it have 30GB of flash, and the ability to watch videos like the bigger ipod. I would actually rather see a RIM product pimped up with ipod+itunes (let's call it the iPearl) rather than an Apple product pimped up with RIM-like functionality. Without the killer RIM service I think you have a loser product.

Mike said...

I've known many people within companies such as HP who have for years contended that the phone was the ultimate Internet gateway device. That it would provide the average consumer with 90% of their needs at a lower cost point than any other piece of hardware. To date, what has occurred have been piecemeal products each providing some aspect to address customer needs but none bringing it all together. Apple and RIM are perhaps the two strongest companies when it comes to getting it right for their particular areas - Apple for multi-media content delivery, management, and ease of use while RIM for business content delivery and a form of instant messaging.

In the background, the phone providers such as Nokia and Motorola have been developing significant advancements in trying to make cell phones actually work and be reliable while the Verizons / Cingulars of the world have tried to build out an infrastructure that also actually works and is reliable. None of these have really impressed customers to date which is why so many remain fickled and unwilling to commit their entire content experience to them.

So,it comes down to who do you trust. The best bet is on Apple since they have a solid go to market strategy and could interleave their technology into a wide range of pbone and network providers. Verizon / Motorola / et. al. can provide the connectivity and hardware to deliver the Apple service at a much lower cost while still differentiating on the ease of use features. If Apple is smart they stay service focused with separate licensing of their hardware and management technology. This allows them to play around without tarnishing their main value proposition - content management and access.

RIM could try something similar but its content management and the types of content it is good at servicing are sufficiently different that perhaps the first phase sees RIM and Apple as separate offerings by the phone providers and then over time, perhaps cooperation can occur to enable the content management and services business to co-exist without major headache for consumers.

 
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