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ROKR: No Big Deal

ROKR: No Big Deal

by , 5:30 PM EDT, September 9th, 2005

For the past few days, TMO reporters and editors have visited Cingular retail stores across the U.S. to play with the ROKR E1 phone and to say we are unimpressed with this phone and its capabilities is an understatement.

This phone is a watered downed version of something that could have been so impressive and really left Apple's mark on a new line of products and services. Instead, Mr. Jobs has stolen what could have been a great customer experience for consumers.

Heck, this phone won't even sync with my Mac to keep my phone numbers and names! What could it have taken to have done something as simple as that?! I even would have considered buying it if it had that functionality and I know a lot of other Mac users would have too!

This reporter played with the new phone for 45 minutes Friday at a Cingular store near Alexandria, Virginia. It wasn't something that got me excited. It wasn't something I looked at and said, "Apple was really Thinking Different" on this product." I could have easily walked away from this product, and yes, I did.

When I asked the store manager if he had sold any of the new phones yet, he chuckled and said "not a one." When I asked him how many customers had looked at it in the last seven hours that the store had been opened, he told me "about 10." He then told me that the majority of people told him they either already owned an iPod, or "didn't think it was worth the price to store just 100 songs when they can store so many more on even just an iPod shuffle."

Point well taken. Now if only Steve Jobs would have thought about that. Instead, he has let the almighty dollar get in the way. Because Apple is only making money on the licensing of iTunes and making nada on the phone or the cell service, they are basically saying they couldn't care less.

This is obviously just a real big test for Apple to see if people want to play music on an all-in-one phone. But no 'test' will work if you don't have the right formula, and this isn't it.

So potential customers who thought this would be a great product are going to be disappointed. That is the fault of one man who we all know controlled the development of this product and the iTunes applet right down to the last comma.

One question for Steve Jobs...If you wanted to keep all the profits of a more robust phones with iTunes-capabilities, why didn't you just make one yourself? Here's a prediction...Steve's good old pal, Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal, is going to pan this phone within the next two weeks in his column. Will that be enough to convince Mr. Jobs he blew it?

By the way, it's not "Apple's iTunes Phone," as Business Week and others are calling it. It's Motorola's. Just because Steve Jobs introduced it at some big event, doesn't make it Apple's product. It's not being sold by Apple or manufactured by Apple. Just because Bose makes the sound system on certain General Motors cars doesn't mean you see the car named "Bose's Corvette".

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