Apple's full of surprises this week: no sooner has it stunned the developed world with a new iPod design than it's integrating iTunes with a mobile phone. The phone was the less surprising of the two, given the two companies announced they were working together over a year ago. And there's none of the famous Apple style to this phone; the chassis is 98 per cent Motorola with a lick of Apple white. None the less, this is an interesting new step for Apple.
Pundits have long speculated that the iPod's biggest threat comes from the convergence of mobile phones and MP3 players. The threat being that once MP3 players are integrated into phones as a matter of course, the need to carry a separate MP3 player dissapears. Although this iTunes phone, the Rokr, is neither spectacular to look at nor remarkably specced, the phone does allow Apple to make a cautious entry into the mobile phone market with the hulking bodyguards of Motorola and American cell phone giant Cingular at its sides. We expect it to be picked up by most UK networks in September and October.
We hoped for a phone that would spring from the wondrous design shop of Apple itself, but judging from what we saw at the launch party yesterday, the Rokr is functionally solid despite the unexciting case design and meagre 100-song capacity. Obviously the most interesting feature of the phone is its ability to sync directly with iTunes to transfer your music from the iTunes Store or your hard disk. Look out for a full review soon. -CS
Update: this review is now live here.