Last week Apple launched the much anticipated iPod Phone. Developed in partnership with Motorola, the device is officially called the Rokr E1, but many have already dubbed it "the crocker".
There are of course many existing smart phones that double up as digital payers, just none that would really persuade you to leave your iPod at home.
The greater song capacity and street cred make it worth carrying the extra device.
If I am short of pocket space and leave the iPod at home, I use its distinctive white iPod ear-buds with my phone, so I can listen to music in public, while still maintaining my social status.
It has been more than a year now since Apple announced its intention to develop a music phone with Motorola. In mobile phone terms, a year is about three generations of product, so we were expecting something special from Apple.
Would the device have the signature "click wheel" iPod interface? Would it have clean uncluttered white and silver looks? Would it contain a hard drive, lacking in most smart phones, that could store 'gigs' of music?
Would we be able to download music directly to the phone?
Would we be able to use songs as ring tones, and truly express our individuality in a modern context, while annoying others and hopefully putting ring tone company Jamster out of business (I've not forgiven them for that frog yet).
No, no, no, no and no are the answers. The truth is this Rokr is more phone than iPod.
To be fair, the music player part does work exactly like an iPod, so you need a PC/Mac to run iTunes to load up in your music. You need a USB1.1 cable to do this, which seems rather prehistoric in the modern wireless era. Other iPods use the much faster USB2.0 or FireWire connection. So to correct myself - the Rokr works exactly like an iPod - only slower.
The music quality is reported to be good, but with modern music being what it is, I don't see that matters much to the majority of its target youth audience!
The Rokr can only hold 100 songs. That's the problem with using solid state memory rather than a hard drive. But hard drives require bigger batteries and take up too much space when there is phone circuitry and a camera to accommodate. But then market leading mobile phone manufactures could have told them that. They don't use simplistic minimalist "click wheel" interfaces either, when an alpha numeric key pad is needed.
The reason the Rokr looks like a phone is that leading and innovative electronics manufactures have spent years refining phone design. If there was a better way of combining phone and music players, with the current technology they would have found it!
Perhaps Apple were arrogant to think they could do better.