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. I think that an Apple smart phone would be a great idea! However, it is merely a vaporware dream. Why hasn’t Apple put anything into designing a new PDA? For some reason, Apple hasn’t wanted to move into that direction. Now it seems pretty obvious that Apple doesn’t play nice with collaborative third-party developers, so the thought of more Apple compatibility with cell/mobile phones and PDAs is getting dead too. It’s sad to see this.

  2. I think the premise of his argument is way off. As I understand it, and please correct me if I’m wrong, Apple doesn’t have the relationship with Cingular, Motorola does. All Apple did with this phone was write a version of iTunes for it. They didn’t design the OS, and you can’t connect to iTMS with it, so they have nothing to do with the carrier at all. Honestly, I don’t think Motorola or Cingular could be described as Apple’s lapdog in any way, shape or form. Palmer isn’t even close here. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’d be great if Apple made a phone, but let’s at least start from a point based in reality.

  3. Don’t want an Apple iPod/Phone combo – that would suck

    Whan I want is an apple-made phone that’s nicely designed, simple to use with not too many ‘features’ and syncs well with my Mac. I’ve not found a phone yet that fulfills all those criteria.

    I reckon that Ives could sneeze on a bit of paper and the resulting design would be better than most other companies’ efforts…

    MW: simple. As in keep it

  4. He is overstating Apple’s position. They have only a toe hold.

    Phone cameras have turned out to be a short lived fad. People still want cameras and phones. They will also generally want ipods and mobiles that do their specific jobs well rather than both poorly.

    The music channel has still to prove itself. What SJ has may yet turn out to be a lot of nothing – especially at the current download pricing.

  5. I lost much of my interest in Palmer’s ideas during his vendetta against the mac mini.

    Instead of just stating his viewpoint, he seemed to be on an irrational crusade that showed how out of touch he is with the regular consumer. I know several pc people who are excited by the affordable mac mini.

  6. arguably I’d say symbian is the best mobile OS. The camera phone hasn’t gone away and isn’t a short lived fad, but much like motorola’s version of a music phone is not-ready-for-prime-time ™. We’re into megapixel w/ flash already (yay). Look at some of the phones in Korea (pwnage). I can’t imagine not having a camera in my phone. Sure it’s not the highest quality, but I don’t carry my digital camera everywhere I go (neither do most of you). Convergence/Synergy is good, but the company that’s going to take you there sure as windows isn’t Motorola. ‘we took a troll and put it in your car and came up with motortrolla’

  7. what! u guys are nuts! why not have an ipod intergrated into a phone? its going to happen eventually. instead of having to grab your ipod and your phone u just take one of them. these are mobile devices which mean u have to carry them around with u. its not hard to figure that 1 device is better than 2. as long as its well designed and light weight.
    i believe it will happen. and as the article suggests its possible for steve to rocknroll in the phone industry.

    the new age is about technology and how u interact with it. apples going to do this.

  8. No Carlo, it’s not going to happen because it’s stupid. MDN may harp on about their iPhone for Nano attachment idea, but really it would only add a tiny bit of extra functionality and wouldn’t justify the time, effort and expense.

    Now PDAs, there’s a portable device you take everywhere with you. They’re not as small as an iPod but they’re a hell of a lot more functional, being self-sufficient with synchrony to boot. Stick a phone in one of those and you’ve eliminated wasted convergence of function (all modern phones have rudimentary address books and calendars) with convergence of form. Neither device requires nearly as much storage capacity as an iPod because neither functions primarily as a storage and recall repository.

  9. As was said above, the mobile phone industry already makes MP3 playback features on many of their cell phones. The Rokr is just a first step with Apple and Motorola. It hasn’t really been much of a success, since many of these Rokrs have been having some technical problems, but it’s obvious that this is the direction that this technology is going. It’s simply that there is room for some improvements.

    I hope that Apple would try to design a better mobile phone, or collaborate with other phone companies, and I’m praying for something along the same lines as a smart phone like the Treo. The future is looking great! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

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