How Apple’s Steve Jobs snookered the entire cell phone industry

“Because Apple already has a deal in place with Cingular, Apple’s iTunes phone will sail on the same favorable waters as Motorola’s. Except Motorola will be nowhere in the picture, relegated to its long-term role of cranking out mediocre iTunes phones that can’t hold a candle to Apple’s iTunes phone. Steve will have cut out the middle man and gotten a bit of revenge on his old chip supplying nemesis in the process. And the deal he’ll have in place with Cingular will be one that he never in a million years could have scored if he’d walked in out of the cold and asked for it from day one,” Bill Palmer writes for iPod Garage.

“Sound complicated? I think so,” Palmer writes. “But whether the above is actually an accurate portrait of what really happened or merely a rough sketch, the end result is that Apple now has both Motorola and Cingular playing the role of lapdog, taking on most of the risk while Apple gets most of the reward…and the rest of the cell phone industry is just scratching its head and wondering when or even if they should try to launch a competing product. In short, Steve Jobs walked into the cell phone industry empty-handed and within a year managed to snooker ’em all.”

Full article, highly recommended, here.

Related articles:
Apple iPod division head: iPod and mobile phones best left separate – September 27, 2005
If Apple isn’t working on their own iPhone, they’re making a stupid mistake – September 12, 2005
Does Apple need a mobile phone of its own design? – September 09, 2005

Motorola CEO Zander: Apple to build a smart phone, it’s only a matter of time – September 29, 2005
Motorola says ‘screw nano’ comment was joke – September 26, 2005
Motorola CEO Ed Zander on Apple iPod nano: ‘Screw the nano’ – September 26, 2005

Fortune’s Lewis: Apple iTunes software the only cute thing about Motorola’s ROKR mobile phone – September 21, 2005
Consumer Reports: Apple’s iPod nano ‘sizzles,’ Motorola ROKR mobile phone ‘fizzles’ – September 21, 2005
BBC: Motorola ROKR iTunes mobile phone design ‘feels like yesterday’s phone by UK standards’ – September 17, 2005
Hands on review of Motorola ROKR Apple iTunes mobile phone – September 12, 2005
Motorola ROKR iTunes-enabled mobile phone greeted with cool response – September 12, 2005
Music phones pose no threat to Apple iPod – September 09, 2005
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. Here is an article MDN featured in early January:

    Bill Palmer: ‘Headless Mac’ a phony rumor that doesn’t exist

    MacDailyNews Take: Say what you will about Bill, but he’s staked out his limb quite clearly and he doesn’t seem to be budging, no matter what. If Bill’s right, we won’t forget it here at MDN. Same goes for if Bill’s wrong.

    Well, it looks like MDN forgot.

  2. Tripe again.

    There *are* competing products in this segment. I have had a phone w/ crystal clear mp3 playback in my pocket for 2 years now. *and* it runs what we can all agree is the best mobile OS on the planet: PalmOS 5. So it does LOTS of other things, too. Tells me what kind of wine to order, gets my email, gives me the score of the Red Sox game, works as a universal remote, plays games, reads the news, knows movie times, and on and on and on…

    Get out of the bubble. Just because Apple hasn’t made something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The fact that nobody thinks about the Treo is a sad testament to the lack of marketing that has led them to adopt Windows for their next line of devices.

  3. Interesting speculation. I have to admit though that I now I take everything that Palmer turns out with a grain of salt. His extremely vicious anti-Mac mini stance was just embarrassing. And as far as I know he has never admitted that he was mistaken – which just lowers his credibility even further. If he would have just come out and written something that said “Well, I was wrong” I think the Mac Community would have forgiven and forgot. As it is, I always feel he is secretly rooting for Mac mini sales to flop just so he can crow that he was right.

  4. I disagree with the PC Apologist. Sure the Treo is nice and is probably the best “Smartphone / PDA” out there. However, Palm really isn’t supporting Apple any longer and it’s hard to find a Smartphone that syncs well with Apple’s software (iCal / Address Book / etc.). I’m using a Sony p910a simply because it natively syncs with my Apple better than the Treo does when using The Missing Sync.

    For me, the insinuation that Apple might come out with a phone is great news not because I give a damn about having a combo cell phone / iPod, but because I desperately want a Smartphone that perfectly integrates with my Apple software.

    Please, please do this Apple.


  5. Well, I happen to that while the “headless Mac” was a great idea, the iPhone is as stupid of an idea as they come. Most people simply don’t care to mix their iPod with their cell phone.

    I know this much, Apple will sell far more Mac minis than they’ll ever sell iPhones, not that they’ll probably ever release a phone anyway…

  6. If Apple makes their own iTunes phone, it would be a “groundbreakingly stupid, terrible idea.” The fact that the iPod nano completely stole the ROKR’s thunder speaks to that certainty. Consumers in general would rather have a nano than any iTunes phone, whether it’s designed by Apple themselves or not.

  7. I don’t think this is about an iPhone. I think this is about a wireless network connection (modem) for the iPod that will allow it to load tunes directly from the iTunes music store. You might be able to use it as a phone too but the big thing will be wireless connectivity to iTunes.

    There’s bound to be a large number of people who are dumb enough to try downloading tunes over their Cingular connection. I know a few.

    Just my two cents.

  8. Screw the cellphone/iPod. You’ll never get one with enough capacity for me to want to buy it as an iPod replacement. One thing I’d like to see Steve pull off is a PDA/Phone. Now THAT is something Apple hasn’t looked into in a while, and would have a lot more functionality than an iPod-phone could ever attempt.

    What’s more, it would (like the iPod did way back when) open up a whole new market to Apple without competing with any of her existing products.

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