Apple’s new iPhone, on sale July 11, will almost certainly be the best mobile phone the U.S. has ever seen. Which means rivals peddling inferior models are going to have a hard time selling anything priced anywhere near the iPhone’s new $199 price tag.
That doesn’t mean they won’t try. Here’s the latest example: Motorola, which is pushing its new ROKR E8 next month.
What is the ROKR E8? Nothing special — not even a smartphone. Just another gadget with a built-in MP3 player, the standard Motorola (MOT) operating system, and a small screen. It has a gimmick — a keypad that changes form depending on what you’re doing — but that doesn’t add any new features. It does have a FM radio tuner, though. (If you recall, the first ROKR was the crappy phone that Apple and Motorola half-heartedly partnered on in 2005.)
If this were a cheapo phone, its modest feature set wouldn’t be a problem — not everyone needs a full-fledged smartphone. But T-Mobile is selling this for the same price as the iPhone 2.0. Who do they think will pay that much?
- People who enjoy being tied to a two-year T-Mobile contract.
- People who detest AT&T and/or Apple.
- People who sit on Motorola’s board.
That said, we think T-Mobile will quickly learn a lesson: Anything that’s not as good as the iPhone can’t cost what an iPhone costs. Sprint Nextel (S) recently decided (wisely) to lower the price of its brand-new, iPhone-lookalike Samsung Instinct to $129, down from the $299 it reportedly wanted to charge for it. We think the new ROKR is in line for a very quick price cut, too.
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