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ROKR Buzz Unimpressive... Or Is It?

It seems the ROKR phone, which I regarded as a tentative and incomplete but reasonable first step in testing the waters of a music player/phone convergence device, has not impressed the tech media and the bloggers.

Keep in mind that this is not an Apple phone, and was not designed by Apple's industrial design gurus. To see the iPod Nano and try and compare the Nano to the ROKR is comparing apples and bananas- there are similarities but there's more to contrast than there is to compare. Instead, the ROKR is a Motorola phone that runs a mobile version of the iTunes software. The distinction is an important one to make- if you view the ROKR alongside other Motorola phones, you see it fits in with their design style. Whether for good or ill is another discussion; I certainly have mixed feelings about Motorola phones in terms of design but they have a solid functional offering.

The ROKR E1 may be a testing of the waters. Perhaps Apple wanted to start small so as to avoid cannibalizing precious iPod sales. Rather than make the huge investment into building their own iPhone, which would have large R&D costs due to the high level of Mac integration that will be required for such a device to succeed, they partnered with an established phone manufacturer so that the risk is not as great.

If the ROKR concept takes off, great. If the market decides that phones are not good mp3 players, the damage will be kept somewhat at bay. But the biggest risk may be in not producing such a phone at all- there are other players in this space, and if the market takes off, Apple risks being left behind.

Put in that light, the ROKR might be good business strategy as a test balloon.

Posted on September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Tag this post with del.icio.us | This Post Now Lives Here


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