It's so weird to watch the Stalinist maneuvers among these ostensible giants of the capitalist economy. Since when do innovators give a veto over their products to incumbents? This is like holding back the railroads because the blacksmiths threaten to boycott any steel mill that supplies rails.
My big hope is that a company with some real intestinal fortitude will launch a genuinely competitive device that responds to market demand. Maybe Song, the Chinese mobile phone titan, will take over the global mobile market by just shipping something that out-competes iTunes, the iPod and the stupid carriers, instead of kowtowing to them.
The Motorola team soon discovered that working with Apple means making compromises. A key part of the iTunes package, for example, is FairPlay, Apple's digital rights management software. Ostensibly, DRM exists to benefit the music companies, but it's an equally handy control mechanism for the tech outfits that develop it - companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Apple. FairPlay would set limits on the new phone: It couldn't play music from any major online store but iTunes. It couldn't hold more than 100 songs. "It's obvious why Apple is doing this," says Patrick Parodi, head of the Mobile Entertainment Forum, an industry trade group. "They don't want to cannibalize the iPod..."Link
The rumor is that one or more carriers told Motorola that if it went ahead with the ROKR, it could forget about selling other phones through their stores. Motorola denies that ever happened, but industry insiders find it awfully plausible. "That's the story, but nobody will cop to it," says Ted Cohen, who's in charge of digital distribution at EMI Music.