The once eagerly anticipated Motorola ROKR E1 has attracted more than its share of down beats since its launch. Yet the phone plays music well via its headphones and relatively loudly via its small speakers. Its battery life should allay concerns about MP3 listening cutting too deeply into talk time. And its much-criticized arbitrary song limit and slow USB connections can be worked around with a USB 2.0 card reader and Motorola's music application on the phone. The ROKR may look dated and even unattractive, but that hasn't stopped other rockers from enjoying phenomenal success. Isn't that right, Mick and Keith?
Alas, the ROKR is, according to the Motorola Dictionary of Trendy Abridged Spelling, MEDIOKR. The biggest surprise, though, about the disappointing handset was that anyone was surprised at how disappointing it was. Those who have followed Apple since the ascent of the iPod should have seen that this ROKR was going to hit the rocks for a variety of reasons.
From the launch perspective, it made no sense that Apple would generate a lot of hype around the ROKR, a product that had already been quasi-announced. Sure, rumors swarm around Apple announcements like flies at a picnic, but the notion of an iTunes phone created in (loose) partnership with Motorola had publicly been discussed by executives of both companies. So, one should have been on the lookout for something big, which turned out to be something quite small – the iPod nano.