Does Apple need a mobile phone of its own design?

“Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs did his best on Wednesday to downplay his company’s first foray into the mobile phone market,” John Shinal writes for MarketWatch. “Jobs’ revelation that Apple will replace its most popular iPod with a newer, sleeker model essentially upstaged his expected news about the new iPod-equipped phone from Motorola Inc.

Shinal writes, “Yet the question of whether Apple should partner with handset makers, as it did with Motorola on the ROKR phone, or build its own product isn’t about to go away. Whether Apple’s strategy to just put software on someone else’s phone — rather than build its own — will be enough to defend its market-leading position is the subject of fierce debate among analysts. ‘If Apple pursues more relationships like the Motorola one, it will have missed an opportunity,’ said Gene Munster, a Piper Jaffray analyst and long-time Apple bull who rates the company’s shares ‘outperform.’ Munster concedes that Apple will get massive exposure from the arrangement, with Motorola and cellular provider Cingular Wireless both launching massive advertising campaigns. That alone could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in saved marketing expenses for Apple. Yet it appears that Apple is not getting paid a royalty for each phone sold, according to Munster, although the financial details weren’t disclosed and Apple, Motorola and Cingular have refused to comment on them. ‘From a revenue standpoint, the phone is a non-event for Apple,’ Munster said.”

“Does Apple really want to become a phone maker in competition with Nokia and others? Probably not,” Shinal writes. “Much more likely, Jobs has learned from history and has decided to play with the handset giants, rather than against them. Now, if he could only find a way to get paid for doing it.”

Full article with much more, highly recommended, here.

Related articles:
USA Today: Motorola ROKR iTunes mobile phone provides ‘snazzy’ first impression – September 08, 2005
NYT’s Pogue: Motorola ROKR iTunes phone ‘great-sounding, reasonably priced and a lot of fun’ – September 08, 2005
Apple’s iPod nano will make competitors whimper, Motorola’s ROKR inexplicably bland – September 07, 2005
Tech pundit Enderle: ‘iPod Nano is a hit,’ Motorola ROKR ‘simply doesn’t have enough Apple in it’ – September 07, 2005
Apple announces Motorola ROKR iTunes phone, Cingular partnership, iTunes 5 – September 07, 2005
Apple, Motorola & Cingular debut world’s first iTunes mobile phone – September 07, 2005
Motorola ROKR Apple iTunes mobile phone availability dates for Europe, North America, and Asia – September 07, 2005


  1. History is against single devices that can do everything, but towards specialization (and cross-breeding).

    iMaki –
    At the start of the C20th you could buy an electric motor which you would connect to various appliances that needed one – sewing machines, mixers, etc – by the mid century it was cheaper to embed the motor – like embedded computing now.

    Games consoles came AFTER general purpose microcomputers, then the games consoles become CD players. But most people still have a hi-fi rather than play their CDs through the TV.

    And I’ll have a Sony PSP and iPod Nano (just as I don’t use my Palm Pilot for playing MP3 now – although it can).

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