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Technology (Apple) Technology

Did Apple Sabotage the ROKR? 502

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
JPigford writes "The Apple Blog makes claim that Apple sabotaged the success of the ROKR so as to sway public opinion of MP3 cell phones in general...ultimately to drive more sales to the iPod. By mandating a 100 song limit on the ROKR and having the product flop, Apple was able to put a bad taste in the mouths of consumers so that not only do they drive more iPod sales, but they keep competitors from fighting back with their own MP3 phones."
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Did Apple Sabotage the ROKR?

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  • Doesn't add up. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by H_Fisher (808597) <hvfisherNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:16PM (#13989454)
    Has Apple done such a thing before?

    Their name is still connected to this product, by way of iTunes. So, logically, if people's only experience with iTunes comes by way of the ROKR and that experience is a negative one, logically that's going to lead customers to respond by going elsewhere for music and for a portable music player.

    The idea that people might get a ROKR and say "wow, this is cool, I want to buy an iPod now" seems more plausable - as does the idea that more people than you might realize are going to shy away from the all-in-one gadgetization of the phone (with cameras, mps players, video / TV etc.) I am one of those people who would rather have three devices that do their respective functions very well than one that does three different things in a mediocre way.

    • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tehwebguy (860335)
      The idea that people might get a ROKR and say "wow, this is cool, I want to buy an iPod now" seems more plausable

      hmm i don't think so, someone who has some songs on their phone would probably not see the need for another device for songs in their pocket..

      this does add up my friend, another article like this was available the day after the crappy rokr came out. apple likely plans on releasing a phone that they design themself in the future.
      • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by teromajusa (445906)
        hmm i don't think so, someone who has some songs on their phone would probably not see the need for another device for songs in their pocket..

        If they like some things about it but are frustrated by its lack of capacity, they're likely to upgrade to an ipod. If they hate the device altogether, they're less likely to do so. Doesn't seem a clever strategy to me.

        this does add up my friend, another article like this was available the day after the crappy rokr came out.

        The number of articles making a claim doe
      • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:47PM (#13989769)

        this does add up my friend, another article like this was available the day after the crappy rokr came out. apple likely plans on releasing a phone that they design themself in the future.

        How does that add up? You claim they intentionally made a crappy product branded with the itunes name and they made it crappy to promote sales of a new phone they plan to release with the itunes name? It's called poisoning the brand and it is not a good thing. People that buy a crappy itunes phone are unlikely to buy another. And will advise others against it, even if all the drawbacks of the first one are solved.

      • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @02:07PM (#13990413) Homepage
        exactly.

        that is why I have a treo 600 in my pocket.

        I have a mp3 player that works great, interrupts the song with a ring during a call and allows me to answer by pressing a button on my stereo headset nd take the call with the headset. I get the bonus of getting rid of my palm PDA with it and have that legendary stability of palm (the reason why I got the 600 instead of the 650)

        plus I can watch tv shows and movies from my replayTV or computer on it as well.

        so it doesnt use itunes, big whoop to me and many other people.

        this phone is not the first mp3 player/phone to ever exist even though they are trying to market it that way.
    • So, logically, if people's only experience with iTunes comes by way of the ROKR and that experience is a negative one, logically that's going to lead customers to respond by going elsewhere for music and for a portable music player.

      Which is what iPod is no?

      The idea that people might get a ROKR and say "wow, this is cool, I want to buy an iPod now" seems more plausable

      That only by your logic, the average person would buy a mp3-enabled-mobile and if it is good enough they would keep it. Why having to go out w
      • That only by your logic, the average person would buy a mp3-enabled-mobile and if it is good enough they would keep it. Why having to go out with 2 bricks if 1 can do everyting fine?.

        For the same reason that I don't want to get an O2 XDA Exec [my-xda.com]. Great phone and all, they have been out for a while, and a number of the bugs have gone, but at the same time, I run into the problem that the thing (as far as I am concerned) is huge. If I want to go out with a phone and nothing else, I don't want to carry that thing
    • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bigman2003 (671309)
      This is one of the few conspiracy theories that I might actually agree with. Apple, and Sony have the need to push their own products- and damn anyone who wants them to change.

      HP iPod? Dead
      Apple ][ Clones?
      Mac Clones?

      Apple likes to be the only source..it's more profitable that way.
      • "Apple likes to be the only source..it's more profitable that way."

        Not entirly. If Apple can find the sweet sopt on licencing fees, they can reap a fair profit without any cost. The trick is making the licence fees low enough that your "competition" doesn't feel too pinched and thus exit the market, while not charging so little that you find yourself competing with your own technology . . . and loosing.

        That's a hard sweet spot to find, for example Betamax failed because the fees were too steep and everyon
      • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:5, Informative)

        by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:55PM (#13989837)
        bigman2003 wrote:
        This is one of the few conspiracy theories that I might actually agree with. Apple, and Sony have the need to push their own products- and damn anyone who wants them to change.

        HP iPod? Dead Apple ][ Clones? Mac Clones?

        Apple likes to be the only source..it's more profitable that way.

        The trouble is that all of these situations are different and don't really suggest any sort of pattern.
        HP iPod
        This was a rebranded iPod with HP nameplate, almost like the U2 iPod except that Apple did no promotion of the HP product. HP sold it in places like Office Depot where Apple really had no sales presence. Killed by HP after the shift of the CEO's and a desire for the non-Carly compay to be perceived as a business, rather than consumer, powerhouse. If there was more subversive motivation behind it, it was from an Apple competitor (e.g. Creative or Microsoft) encouraging HP to drop their iPod.
        Apple ][ clones
        Competitors like Franklin were outright stealing the ROM code from Apple to power their clone. They didn't reverse engineer anything. There was no license agreement, no corporate cooperation; these examples were just outright theft but in an era when Intellectual Property laws weren't as clear in regards to computer code.
        Mac clones
        This was the pre-Jobs plan under Gil Amelio as CEO to license the classic Mac architecture and make money off of sales of the System 7.6 & System 8 OS. Many companies were interested. Steve Jobs returned with the "future" Mac OS and saw this initiative as both burdensome for future development and financially very unfavorable to Apple. If you recall new agreements were made and Apple made a couple of lame duck releases to fulfill the word of the old agreements. Companies lost interest in the new terms.
        Now you're leaping to the ROKR and saying this fits the same Apple pattern? Not to my mind. Apple and Motorolla give the appearance that this is co-developed. Was it? That's debatable, but it's already a significantly different situation.
    • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dirk (87083)
      Well, they didn't sabotage it in that it doesn't work right, they just put so many limitations on it that people would want something with more functionality (ie the iPod). It works, and it works great with iTunes. But how many people are going to want more than 100 songs at a time? My guess woul dbe almost everyone. And in that case, they have to go to an iPod since they already purchased songs from iTunes. So basically the ROKR will get people in, and then they realize that it is WAY too limited, so
      • Good point. I haven't seen a ROKR in person. I do have a 20Gb iPod (the only Apple product I own - not that I dislike 'em, just not my choice). I agree that if I had purchased a ROKR and expected to get an iPod with a phone attached, I would be disappointed by the limitations also. Also, the points people have made about the Mac clones, etc. make good sense: Mac has ALWAYS wanted to be the single source. Which is why, realistically, an Apple monopoly would probably give us the same lack of innovation
      • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:41PM (#13989721) Journal
        "But how many people are going to want more than 100 songs at a time? My guess woul dbe almost everyone."

        My 512MB iPod Shuffle (which I received for free) can hold maybe 150 songs at most. That translates to eight and a half hours of music with the 128kbps AAC compression, and that's more than enough for bus rides or walking to classes and then swapping out songs when I get bored with the mix in a few days.

        100 songs is more than it sounds like.

        • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Xzzy (111297) <[sether] [at] [tru7h.org]> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:53PM (#13989822) Homepage
          Yeah, no kidding. I can usually make do with a single audio CD's worth of music for a few days before needing to swap out.

          If the ROKR is failing, the only reason it's doing so is because the cell phone market is absolutely saturated. Everyone that wants one already has a phone, and phones aren't fashion items anymore. iPod is.
          • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Golias (176380) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @01:09PM (#13989949)
            If the ROKR is failing, the only reason it's doing so is because the cell phone market is absolutely saturated.

            DING DING DING DING!!!

            Look at that! Somebody finally got to the crux of the issue.

            I think the ROKR looks like a nifty phone, but there's no way I'm buying one because my current phone (also made by Motorola) required that I subscribe to two years of T-Mobile service in order to get it at a sensible price. That was only a few months ago.

            To buy an ROKR, I would have to break that contract (paying an obscene early-exit fee), and sign up for Cingular (another good service provider, but considerably more expensive than my current plan.)

            Ultimately, that would mean hundreds of dollars just to make this minor upgrade over my current Motorola phone (which I'm far from 100% happy with, by the way.) I'm far better off waiting another year and a half for my current service contract to expire and see what's out there at that time, or else just attaching a shuffle to my current phone with hot glue if I really need an all-in-one device so damn badly.

            I'm sure I'm far from the only person out there in such a position.
            • Or, you could just buy one on ebay without the discounts at actual retail price, and swap sim cards.
            • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Llywelyn (531070)
              Exactly.

              I'm in a contract with Sprint. In order to use a ROKR I would have to break contract, buy a new phone, enter a new contract, etc. Its not even worth the time it would take me to figure out the benefit:loss ratio of switching.

              If/when I do switch, it would probably be to verizon simply because I know a lot of people on it and it would be nice not to worry about costs when I talk to them. My network choice is dictated less by phone technology and more by utility of the network/plan.

              That said, am I t
        • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mikael_j (106439)
          Have you ever been on a seven hour bus ride? And then had to travel back again a few days later? That's 14 hours, and your taste in music might change depending on your mood so it's always nice to at least have three times (Travel Time)/(Average Song Length) songs with you. It's also quite nice not having remember that you forgot to put that good album on your mp3 player before you left for work..

          Of course, another pet peeve of mine is people who go "Why would anyone need a tiny monitor for their mp3 playe

          • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Secrity (742221)
            How many people go on a seven hour bus rides? The closest I ever got to a seven hour bus ride was when we had a freaky snow storm. A 20 minute scheduled bus ride turned into a TWO HOUR ordeal. At that time, I had a Walkman and maybe a half-dozen C-90 tapes, the potential limiting factor on that ride was battery life (and bladder capacity). It was sorta fun watching the bus sliding sideways and occasionally touching cars parked on a Snow Emergency Route. I find it funny to see people talk about portable
        • I realise that sometimes its nice to have all your music with you, hence the 60 Gig ipod, but I don't think it's really what people need. Most people just want something cheap and reliable that they can easily take with them, and hold a few days worth of music. I think many people underestimate the CD/Minidisc player. You can record a bunch of mixes that you like, and then just take whatever one you want with you. You don't have to boot your computer every day just to get different music. With most of
      • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dasher42 (514179)
        You know, Apple doesn't tie up large sections of the industry in backwards, proprietary technology. They're cutting edge. They give back to open source projects. If they do something wrong, you can find other replacements and not feel starved for support. So what if they want to tweak the capabilities of their product line?

        Apple and MS just don't remotely equate.
    • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I am one of those people who would rather have three devices that do their respective functions very well than one that does three different things in a mediocre way.

      Damn man, how big are your pockets, how many computers do you have, one for each task?

      The mobile phone is designed for listening to things, the mobile phone is designed for storing data (address book, text messages), these are the only two things an MP3 player needs.

      Retrieving artist/album/genre/song title from a database would simply be an
      • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jacksonj04 (800021)
        At the moment I want to have with me at all times:

        Phone/text functionality
        Web browsing functionality
        Portable hard disk/flash memory
        Music player
        Contacts list
        Calendar
        Task list
        Email functionality
        Note-keeping functionality.

        Plus everything needs to be able to sync with my PC quickly and easily, along with sharing information like contact details. There is nothing which does all these to the quality I need. Yes, my phone happens to have a calendar and some music functionality. Yes, my iPod can store my tasks. If
    • Re:Doesn't add up. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RingDev (879105)
      "I am one of those people who would rather have three devices that do their respective functions very well than one that does three different things in a mediocre way."

      I'd rather have 1 that did all well with a battery that lasted for more then 2 hours of activity.

      Let me know when I can have PDA like flexibility, Wireless internet access, Cellphone communication, and iPod like music playback on a battery/fuelcell that will run for 8 hours of [b]activity[/b] on one device.

      -Rick
  • it's possible (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BushCheney08 (917605)
    While it's entirely possible that Apple did help sabotage it, I think it's more likely that it was a crappy product that's caused it to fail so far...
    • True, but as a ROKR owner, it's not that crappy. Plus, word is that the new RAZR V3i, with iTunes support, also has a 100 song limit. It'll be harder to argue the product was at fault with a RAZR.
    • "While I think it's true, it might be true."

      You just said two things that you obviously intended to be mutually exclusive, but they are definetly not. Maybe it's a crappy product because apple sabotaged it.

      Apple, in general, has a history of doing nasty shit like that: IIRC the Apple II (?) you could upgrade the RAM yourself for like 40$ or pay apple 400$ to do it, so many people went this route. Apple then decided not to furnish BIOS upgrades (bug fixes) to the people it had discovered had done the upgrade
  • Not true... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rwven (663186)
    I think people are perfectly happy with "only" 100 songs on their phone. I've seen several people with them already, and they just came out... In my observation, it took longer for the "razr" to "make it big" than is has for the "rokr." Maybe I'm wrong, but that seems to be the case to me...
  • by Matey-O (518004) <michaeljohnmiller@mSPAMsSPAMnSPAM.com> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:17PM (#13989466) Homepage Journal
    Have you held a ROKR and RAZR at the same time? It's like Motorola can make a gadget pretty, or functional, but not both at the same time.

    What's most puzzling is: It's all the same OS. Their cheapest and most expensive phones have an almost identical menu structure. Making a Java/iTunes app shouldn't have taken as long as it did.

    Lastly. A RAZR is free with a 2 year contract. A 512mb shuffle (which holds more songs) is $80. The two of them together in the same pocket is a better solution than the ROKR....and will go longer on a charge!
    • by KarmaPolice (212543) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:21PM (#13989520) Homepage
      Have you held a ROKR and RAZR at the same time? It's like Motorola can make a gadget pretty, or functional, but not both at the same time.

      Well, the new RAZR V3i seems to be both, so there goes you argument and TFA straight down the drain!

      I could only find this danish article, but it's got a perdy picture:
      http://comon.dk/index.php/news/show/id=24259 [comon.dk]
      • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:45PM (#13989752) Homepage Journal
        I have a RAZR V3, and it's pretty but not very functional.

        The Bluetooth flat-out sucks. I have to reboot my phone after transferring files to and from my PCs, because the stack gets corrupted and it can no longer accept connections. The phone has no OBEX client for browsing other devices. And when the Bluetooth does work and connect to my car kit, it remains connected for as long as the car is on. I can't use the Bluetooth from my Tungsten to get to the network because the phone is in session with the car. My Sony-Ericsson T637 would sort-of ignore the car's request to bind, and would just try a quick connect to its headset every time the phone rang.

        Motorola's phone book application sucks. Their speed dial system consists of rearranging the order of entries on the SIM card.

        The thing is sl-l-l-o-o-o-o-w to boot -- over a minute. Menu responsiveness is also dismal.

        And, while the salesman told me that this phone would have video recording capability, it did not. Later RAZRs do have it, and apparently someone has the software available online to reflash it to add video.

        It does have some bright spots, though. The audio quality is very, very good. The onboard camera is the best quality cell-phone camera I've ever seen (640x480 VGA, good brightness adjustment.) The screen is crystal clear, and visible in virtually every lighting condition. Voice recognition for voice dialing has been aggressively good. It can play MP3 ring tones in addition to the lame DRM-encumbered formats it came with. And it has pretty good battery life.

      • Here's hoping it has more than the current RAZR's 5 mb of storage...that's one item that hasn't yet surfaced on the rumor sites.
    • Have you held a ROKR and RAZR at the same time? It's like Motorola can make a gadget pretty, or functional, but not both at the same time.

      Funny you should say that. Just yesterday Motorola announced the new RAZR V3i [motorola.com] that has built-in iTunes support, plus the now-obligatory megapixel camera. It's interesting to note, though, that they're not emphasizing the iTunes support at this time and don't even mention if the 100-song limit will remain in effect.
  • Unlikely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doomstalk (629173) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:18PM (#13989473)
    There's as much of a chance (if not a greater one) of Apple damaging the iPod brand image as there is of driving people to standalone iPods. The potential gains don't seem worth the immense risk. I'd chalk this one up as a crackpot conspiracy theory.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Regardless of Apple's intent (real, false or perceived) Motorola didn't have to accept the ROKR design nor build it. Motorola's also at fault and clearly didn't do enough consumer testing to learn that the product wasn't desirable before going to production.
  • i also heard... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CDPatten (907182) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:18PM (#13989479) Homepage
    Apple made OSX 10.0 as a way to drive people to Windows.

    Seriosuly, how did this post make is to the front page of slashdot? Its a first attempt, they will get better over time, especially as technology improves. That aside, apple certainly doesn't want its good name attached to things that flop. Its bad PR.

    • Re:i also heard... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by neillewis (137544)
      The ROKR phone always seemed like a market test of concept rather than an all out iPod phone, it's clear they disappointed the Apple cheerleaders, but they've got time to catch up if it is a limited success.
    • Actually they made System 7.5.3 to drive people to Windows.

      That OS, and the PowerBook 5300. The one/two punch from Apple that sold many ThinkPads and Windows95.

      God did they *suck*.

      --chuck

  • C'mon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:19PM (#13989482) Journal
    I can believe that Apple didn't want to cannibalize their own line, and made their deal with Motorola with that in mind.

    But "sabotage"?!? Motorola isn't a couple of kids with a lemonade stand, and it's not even a huge corporation operating outside its normal business. Surely they have enough experience with portable consumer electronics to have dealt with Apple with their eyes open.

    • Apple clearly limited the product to 100 songs on purpose. Whether or not they wanted to "sabotage" the MP3 phone market is another issue, but clearly the decision to limit the ROKR to 100 songs was a result of Apple's greed and stupidity. I think Apple was looking to establish itself in other markets outside of the PC-enthusiast market, and figured their meal ticket was the ROKR. But they didn't want the ROKR or similar MP3 phones to compete directly with their iPods, so they purposely limited the first
  • But this is not an iPod phone. This is a phone with iTunes - big difference. If they had made an iPod with phone capabilities, there's no way it would've flopped. Heck, I'd be stanind in line for it the day it came it out.
    • Agreed. If there were an iPhone, I'd be in line to pick it up. I am disgusted with the view of phone manufacturers, who only look at the features that people want, with dollar signs in their eyes. Rather than build a useful phone, with sense-making features, they only include the features that users will pay for.

      Case in point, most phones (and PDAs) have a tasklist. NONE of them will let you nest tasks. Categories != task nesting. There are many other examples that I can't think of right now.

      I am so ama
    • Introducing... the iPhone. The first rotary cell phone. From Apple.
  • I doubt they would risk doing such a thing, but if they did, it will not work. Clearly the market is moving toward devices that "do it all" or that can at least combine the functionality of multiple devices. I, for one, am getting tired of carrying around a bunch of different gadgets.
  • How perfect! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spideyct (250045) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:21PM (#13989512)
    What a great way to try and cover for a perceived perfect track record.

    Any misstep, just start the rumor (or have your zealot minions do it for you) that any mistake was on purpose. Apple really CAN do no wrong.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:21PM (#13989518)
    The X-Files was a good show, folks, but it's time to move on.

    There are no alien abductions, there are no chemtrails, we really did go to the Moon and all the big problems in the country- from 9/11 to Katria relief- are the result of chaos, sloppiness and stupidity unguided by secret cabals or ninja assassins or Skull and Bones members.

  • by jandrese (485) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:22PM (#13989522) Homepage Journal
    I bought the ROKR for my Wife because she needed a new phone (Cingular was telling her that her old one was being obsoleted and would be shut off eventually) and because I wanted her to stop stealing my iPod all of the time.

    Overall, I think people have been too harsh on this little phone. It does have some flaws, but overall it's pretty nice. It even has some surprises, like the phone speaker good enough to use the little guy like a tiny boombox. Also, people are focusing on the wrong things when they complain about the phone, the 100 song limit isn't the real issue (think of it like the Shuffle, not a regular iPod), it's the USB1 interface that makes loading songs an almost overnight affair. Also, the battery life seems a bit short to me, although I suspect there will be a firmware upgrade for it at some point to keep it from draining the battery after only 1 day of sitting idle. The lights on the side are kinda cool, but really touchy and better left disabled. The camera is surprisingly good for a phone though. The 100 song limit is not a huge deal because the phone only comes with 512MB of memory anyway and 100 average length songs does a pretty good job of filling that up. It's only a big issue if you don't believe in listening to any song longer than 30 seconds or something.

    Despite the drawbacks, the phone does a pretty good job of what it's supposed to do, and the interface on the phone is quite nice.

    Quick tip for anybody with the ROKR: Enable the option in iTunes that downcoverts all songs to 128kbps. If you don't do that, it will just silently refuse to load any song encoded higher and make you pull your hair out in frustration while you try to figure out why half of your playlist is being silently ignored.
  • I can't find and data anywhere that can qualify why the ROKR is being considered a failure? As compared to what?
  • Blame Motorola and they're ugly, hard-to-use phone. It feels like iTunes was just tacked on. Apple was clearly testing the waters, but it's Motorola's phone and they did the hardware design. Apple just provided the software.
  • The fact that it was so big and chunky, not to mention limited in song capacity... I mean, you could literally tape a nano to the back of a RAZR and have a phone that had more functionality in a smaller package!

    It's like they weren't even trying very hard.

    I'm more inclined to believe the "Apple uses Motorola as a whipping boy to get iTunes on a commercial phone to bolster their strategic position for launching an Apple branded cell phone" theory.
    • The fact that it was so big and chunky, not to mention limited in song capacity... I mean, you could literally tape a nano to the back of a RAZR and have a phone that had more functionality in a smaller package

      ... for a $200 increase in price, and a significantly longer manufacturing rollout, and a significantly higher risk of getting cut from the product lineup.

      1) the community perception seems to be that Motorola isn't as capable of designing a UI as Apple is, 2) Motorola probably couldn't get permiss

  • What is? The fact that on an iTunes phone you can't use an transfered mp3 as a ringtone!

    That is so much more obviously a needlessly cripling item, similar to camera phones with mini-cd cards that don't let you transfer photos to your computer using it!

    If apple is to change something, change these silly restrictions first. 100 songs is a good start for my mp3 player, just get with the basic functionality so it is not so obviously crippled first. Then I'll complain about 100 songs.

    - August
  • If you think about it..

    If it flops, then Apple will stay away from the mobile phone business and mobile phone content business.

    Apple didn't want it stealing the thunder from the iPod. Even though there's no where close to enough battery life to play 100 songs and still be confident enough that your phone won't die on you.

    Motorola doesn't want Apple making mobile phone in the future. (remember those rumors?)

    Singular of course still wants you to use as much air time as possible. They don't really want cont
  • Motorola's RAZR V3i (announced yesterday [phonescoop.com]) would have likely been a better debut for iTunes on a cell phone. People know the RAZR, it's a very attractive device, and I think with the RAZR's current popularity that probably would have made more sense.
  • I don't think Motorola needs help sabotaging anything. Motorola often has some interesting tech in their phones, but the UIs are uniformly rotten.
  • 100 song limit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brass1 (30288) <SlrwKQpLrq1FM AT what DOT net> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:31PM (#13989619) Homepage
    There is a simple explanation for the 100 song limit that has already been alluded to in various statements by Motorola and Apple.

    The SanDisk Transflash drive in the phone is removable and replaceable. There is nothing stopping a ROKR owner from replacing the 512M drive with a much larger one (such as the 1G version). Therefore it makes perfect since to put an artificial limit on the number of songs. The USB 1.1 transfer rates are likely a factor as well.

    I own one, and use iTunes on a nearly daily basis on public transportation to and from work. It's much more discrete than carrying around an iPod (two of which I also own) and is something I have to have in my pocket anyway. The 100 song limit doesn't bother me so much, and I refill it about once a week so the transfer rates, while annoying, are tolerable.

    And yes, the phone's interface is a bit clunky, but I find most cell phones suffer from this affliction. My biggest gripe is what appears to be a lack of processing power. The command response borders on dreadful. A more complete j2me environment would have been helpful as well, but that's generally an issue with Motorola.
    • That explanation for the 100 song limit is flawed. All the device has to do is check the available amount of flash space to determine how many songs can fit on it. It makes absolutely no difference if it is a 512 meg or a 4 Gig drive.

      The limit doesn't make "perfect since"; it makes no sense whatsoever.
  • by iamacat (583406)
    Cell phone companies did, to sell their stupid ringtones. They are known to cripple things, while Apple tends to make full-blooded products. But anyway, I don't think the 100 song limit is what killed the phone. Anyway, with a 512MB card the "natural" limit is around 160. More likely it's just not a good phone/mp3 player.
  • I don't think it was sabotage, it was most likely not tested well, had issues with performance and was rushed to the market.
    Why have an artificial 100 song limit? Good question.
    Itunes compatible cell phones are inevitable, this first prototype just didn't cut the mustard.
    http://reviews.cnet.com/Motorola_Rokr_E1/4505-645 4 _7-31515635.html [cnet.com]
    ROKR review from CNET:
    CNET editors' review
    Editors' rating Good 6.3 out of 10
    Reviewed by: Kent German and James Kim
    Review date: 9/15/05 Release date: 9/7
    • Can't download songs wirelessly? Ouch. Isn't downstream to cell phones still stuck at less than 200 kbps? Does the reviewer understand it would take a horribly, horribly long time to download full songs from the iTMS until the cell carriers get smart about uncapping their bandwidth?

      I wouldn't want to do that to my customers.

      This discussion is somewhat muted, anyway; the RAZR will pick up the ROKR's functionality. See here [theregister.co.uk].

  • Replace the word "Apple" with "Microsoft" and the name "Steve Jobs" with "Bill Gates. Then ask the same question. If then your answer is that MS is the most evil company in history and Bill Gates gives lessons to satan himself then you must conclude the same thing about Apple and Steve Jobs.

    MS has a monopoly. T0o many computers == wintel and to be fair other companies like say Dell and of course Intel are very happy to help MS keep that monopoly.

    Because of this monopoly however any decision MS makes will

    • So Apple can get away with charging for service packs. Imagine if MS did that.

      Sorry to be the bringer of bad tidings, but Apple releasing Mac OS X 10.4 as a full-price OS is just the same as Microsoft, for example, doing the same with NT 5.1. That's Windows XP, by the way.

      Apple's "service packs" are available for free through software update, just as Windows XP SP2 was through Windows Update.

  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:35PM (#13989658)
    • The Apple III.
    • The Lisa.
    • The 128K Mac.
    • The $400 external 400K diskette drive.
    • OpenDoc.
    • System 7.
    • The Mac TV.
    • The Mac Portable.
    ... all cleverly designed to be turkeys ... ON PURPOSE!
  • I don't get the freaking out over 100 songs. That is on average about 6 hours of music. I am an avowed music freak, I have over 200G of music on my server and much more that I haven't bothered converting to MP3 yet. I'm looking at getting an iPod, and the nano seems like overkill for something to take on my commute and to the gym. I'll put a new playlist on there everyday anyway, why do I need to store thousands of songs?
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:38PM (#13989684)
    I'd bet carriers had more to say about the song limit -- imposed to encourage paying for downloading of songs via the cell network, not the built-in slow USB1 connection. If the phone stored 1000 songs you can bet that people would scream that they can't quickly sync an entire large collection.

    Motorola does NOT make phones for consumers, it makes them for carriers.


  • The truly diabolical Apple plan is the one where they ship iPods with non-replaceable batteries, fragile screens etc etc and thus poison the minds of consumers against mobile music players -- thus preventing competitors from entering the market!

    I am in awe.
  • Impossible.

    We all know that Jobs is the best, most kind, worderful leader in the entire Multiverse...

    RDF Field OFF - Transmission Terminated.
  • There have just been way too many of these quasi-paranoid suggestions over the years to take any of them seriously.
  • Use Treo 650 (Score:3, Informative)

    by gatzke (2977) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @12:55PM (#13989838) Homepage Journal
    I have hundreds of songs on my Treo using a 1 GB SD card. They now also have 2 GB SD cards, I just have not upgraded.

    Palm PDA utilities, Phone capability, MP3 player without DRM, Palm apps, Word / Excel view and edit, keyboard, good size, (Crappy camera) but hours of crappy video with a 1GB card... Bluetooth is sorta suck too, but overall Treo is pretty sweet.

    They need a 2MP camera, 4 GB memory standard, wifi, and wireless stereo headsets. Also some usability tweaks could help, but overall, I love it.
  • Articles about this topic seem inevitably to get bogged down in details. Why only 512MB? Why only 100 songs, regardless of length? Why so big, why so ugly, why ....?

    That's not the point. Ultimately the technical issues are what they are. The central point is that Apple could have done better, and did not. The market was not clamoring for a mp3 phone, so Apple's decision was not borne out of rush-to-market, and must therefore have been a conscious decision to make a sub-par product. THAT is the questi
  • by gozu (541069) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @01:22PM (#13990059) Journal
    Do you REALLY need this spelled for you? Apple got big bucks by letting Motorola use iTunes and they "crippled" it with 100 songs restriction dealso it would not cannibalize the sales of their regular iPods.

    For fuck's sake, it's not rocket science. sheesh
  • Bad "journalism" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jalefkowit (101585) <jason@jaso[ ]fkowitz.net ['nle' in gap]> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @01:41PM (#13990207) Homepage

    I call BS.

    The Apple Blog isn't doing any original reporting of its own -- it's just riffing off an article from Wired about the business relationship between Apple and Motorola. And it doesn't seem like they read that article very closely, either.

    The Apple Blog asserts:

    Apple mandated the artificial 100 song limit on the ROKR.

    ... which makes it sound like Apple pulled the limitation out of thin air. Apple Blog goes on from there to speculate about Apple's motivation for doing so.

    But if you read the Wired article [wired.com], the actual claim made is nowhere near as conclusive as Apple Blog indicates it is:

    The Motorola team soon discovered that working with Apple means making compromises. A key part of the iTunes package, for example, is FairPlay, Apple's digital rights management software. Ostensibly, DRM exists to benefit the music companies, but it's an equally handy control mechanism for the tech outfits that develop it - companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Apple. FairPlay would set limits on the new phone: It couldn't play music from any major online store but iTunes. It couldn't hold more than 100 songs.

    The Wired article makes it sound like the 100-song limit was less an arbitrary business decision and more a decision based on limits inherent in Apple's FairPlay DRM. Apple's never going to allow an iTunes client that does not use FairPlay, so if there's something about FairPlay-for-mobiles that means you're stuck with 100 songs, that could mean that there was no predatory action on the part of Apple to "sabotage" the ROKR. It was just "the cost of doing business" for using FairPlay.

    If Wired had conclusive proof that Apple made an arbitrary business decision to limit the ROKR to 100 songs, they would have sourced that allegation -- i.e. run a quote from someone who would be in a position to know. But they didn't. If they had inconclusive evidence that Apple might have done that, they could have sourced the assertion to someone more tangential via the old "A source who asked to remain anonymous told us..." approach. They did not do that either.

    What that indicates to me is that either (a) Apple Blog knows something Wired does not, in which case they should source their assertion independently of the Wired article, or (b) Apple Blog's speculations are ungrounded. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide which is the case.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @01:52PM (#13990298) Journal
    This is some kind of a surprise?

    Let's see - Moto strangled the G5, forcing Apple to IBM, and then to finally say "fuck the lot of you" and go over to Intel.

    Ooooh- but then again, Apple pulled the plug on the clones, screwing Moto out of millions...

    Oooooh, but then again...

    Basically, Apple and Moto have been bad for each other for YEARS - this latest notion comes as no surprise.

    RS

  • Don't blame Apple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxpro@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @01:56PM (#13990334)

    Apple did not sabotage this phone. That was done by the terrible twosome that is Motorola and Cingular.

    First of all, the ROKR is (f)ugly. Had Motorola made their first iTunes phone a RAZR (which they are finally bringing to market for Q4 2005), it would've been a slam dunk. Consumers want the RAZR and adding iTunes functionality (as well as decent sized memory) only would drive up demand further. That was not Apple's fault, but Motorola's for acting greedy and assuming they could sucker in early-adopters to buy the crummy phone just for iTunes and then later get them to double-dip into purchasing an iTunes compatible RAZR model.

    Then there's Cingular. Cingular would not allow the phone to use iTunes purchased tracks as ringtones. Wow, that was brilliant. Because all of us that actually have purchased tracks through iTunes would be stupid enough to pay twice the price on the same song cut in half just for the sheer pleasure of using it as a ringtone. That must be another brilliant idea dreamed up by that genius at SBC named Ed Whiteacre for sure.

    There's something that would be painful to watch....a match of wits between Ed Whiteacre and Edgar Bronfman. In a version of Thunderdome hosted by the EFF.

  • Hanlon's Razor? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shut_up_man (450725) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @02:03PM (#13990389) Homepage
    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
  • Calm Down (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thebdj (768618) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @02:18PM (#13990489) Journal
    It is speculation on a Blog. It is a post going to a blog from a person who writes on said blog. The blog has loads of ads. Lets do some math. Write inflammatory Story + Submit to Slashdot + Get a few people to click ads while reading said story = Profit.

    Nothing to see here, just another example of /. posting peoples blogs so they can get some more money.
  • by burris (122191) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @02:29PM (#13990563)
    Apple didn't sabotage the ROKR, Motorola did. USB1 - it's 2005 and a new device came out with USB1? That's insane! It takes about an hour to fill the thing up!

    OK, so it takes an hour. No problem, I'll just plug it into my computer before I go to bed and I'll wake up with a fully charged phone full of new music, right?

    WRONG! The phone does NOT charge while connected to the computer!

    What also sucks about the SU^H^HROKR:

        When playing music, UI becomes unacceptably unresponsive. Like 2 seconds of lag between pushing a key and anything happening.

        Despite the fact that you can play MP3s with it, you cannot set an MP3 to be your ring tone. What if I want my kids voice to be my ringtone? I will NEVER pay for a ring tone.

        I couldn't get it to display any jpg I uploaded to it. It only wants to display images that came with it or were taken with it's own camera.

        The built in amp wont drive my headphones very well (Etymotic ER4) so I tried plugging in my own headphone amp (Headroom BitHead). However, the ROKR headphone detection circuit has too low of a threshold and it cannot detect that an external amp with high impedence is plugged in: so the music continues to come out of the speakers! I had to wire a 10K resistor in parallel to get it to work. Then I discovered that the ROKR powers the headphones the entire time they are plugged in, not just when it is playing music. If you forget to unplug your headhpones when not listening to music your phone will quickly run out of juice.

    The buttons have a weird shape and are hard to push without pushing the wrong buttons. I find it very diffcult to work the five way stick without pushing it in.

    When you hold the phone between your shoulder and ear, nobody can understand what you are saying.

    The shape of wall wart combine with the folding action of the terminals means that it is difficult to plug it into a standard power strip and if you get it plugged in there is a good chance it will loose connection as the terminals fold.

    The UI is awful. There is no consistency. Sometimes it is "Back" sometimes "Exit" sometimes you push the left button to go back, sometimes you push the right button to go back.

    Drivers within the phone have "crashed" disabling the BlueTooth. My phone told me I needed to reboot it!!

    It's junk, I will never buy another Motorola phone.

  • by wbren (682133) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @02:59PM (#13990834) Homepage
    Slashdot: Conspiracy theories for nerds, stuff that might have happened.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @03:30PM (#13991122) Homepage
    Motorola put out a clunky phone with iTunes to test the market, get something out the door, and get a field test. The real product is just coming out - the Motorola RAZR V3i with iTunes capability. [nme.com].

    Now that Motorola has the hardware working, they can consider cutting Apple out of the loop. By, say, cutting a deal with WalMart [walmart.com].

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @03:54PM (#13991345) Homepage Journal
    Every day IU have to read about how bad my phone is.
    I don't know what the problem is, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it.
    It's a phone that plays MP3's and has half a gig of memory... to use anyway I like.
    I can synch my address book and iCal via bluetooth and iSynch...
    It takes decent photos and does video capture as well... with audio.
    I don't have a lot of time to listen in headphones since I am self employed and
    growing a business, so the 100 song limit is fine. In fact, I only put 60 songs on it so I have just under 200 megs left over for file storage.

    I never expected this to be an iPod in a phone.
    I expected it to be a phone with a JME Version of iTunes.

    But every day I go online, it seems I am told I am a fool for buying one.
    Every day I am told that this phone is sooooo bad.

    So can someone please tell me why I am supposed to no like this phone?
    Because I sure as hell don't know why.

    But I do apologize for having bought one.
    I'm sure you all know far better than I every detail about the ROKR E1.
  • Testing the waters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mr_zorg (259994) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @04:45PM (#13991935)
    More likely Apple wanted to test the waters to see how well such a product would be received without making an all out gambit in the market. This way, they can try it, but if it fails, well "we didn't have anything to do with the design, it just licensed our DRM". If it does well, I fully expect a slick-as-hell phone *designed by Apple* to come out, perhaps as part of a full size iPod offering...

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