ROKR: No Big Deal

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 Appleis 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 wonit 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 wasnit something that got me excited. It wasnit 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 "didnit 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 couldnit 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 itesti will work if you donit have the right formula, and this isnit 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 didnit you just make one yourself? Hereis a prediction...Steveis 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, itis not "Appleis iTunes Phone," as Business Week and others are calling it. Itis Motorolais. Just because Steve Jobs introduced it at some big event, doesnit make it Appleis product. Itis not being sold by Apple or manufactured by Apple. Just because Bose makes the sound system on certain General Motors cars doesnit mean you see the car named "Boseis Corvette".