The $199 iPhone's Summer Roadkill: Moto's ROKR E8

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.

See Also:
How The New iPhone Is Already Changing The Mobile Industry: Cheaper Smartphones
Apple’s (AAPL) 3G iPhone: Cheaper For You To Buy, Cheaper For Apple To Build
Steve Jobs’ iPhone Gamble: Betting Billions To Beat RIM, Microsoft

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