Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Why the Rokr stinks

Wired 13.11: Battle for the Soul of the MP3 Phone:
Consumers want an iPod phone that will play any song, anytime, anywhere. Just four little problems: the cell carriers, the record labels, the handset makers, and Apple itself. The inside story of why the ROKR went wrong.* (*And what it will take to make a truly rocking music phone.)

Ok, the world and its dog appear to have a handle on why the Rokr doesn't, and it seems to boil down to the same things: Too few songs, no online downloading, no proper music buttons, too much Moto, not enough Apple. While some of this is undeniably true (especially the Moto/Apple balance - though what did people expect a Motorola phone to be? An iPod?) I'm not buying it all. Doesn't anyone think that there might just be some things about a phone that are inherently incompatible with a music player? I'm thinking:
  • Do I want phone calls to interrupt my listening? I'm happy to see who's calling, kick back and let it ring while I enjoy the music. I'll get back to them later.

  • When my iPod battery runs flat (not too often with the Nano, but it has happened once or twice on some particularly heavy podcast-listening and photo-browsing sessions) I'm not too worried. When the phone's out of juice I'm out of touch.

  • For iPod commuting I usually use my Apple in-ear headphones as they cut out a fair bit of traffic noise. At home it's plugged into my amp via a lovely Monster iCable. Sometimes I've been known to opt for a set of extravagant Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones when I want to drown out someone else's TV viewing. My phone headsets have been universally rubbish, and even given a decent set I'd most likely be tied to that make and model (Sony Ericsson seem to change the connector as often as most people change their underwear).

  • My music player really doesn't need a set of number keys. But my phone does.

  • We might moan about Apple, DRM, the record labels, but if you really want stupid/entrenched/evil just look at the phone carriers. I'm not ready to turn my music listening over to them just yet. And as I always say; I don't know anyone who thinks their phone bill is too small.

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