Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What Makes Collaboration Work?

CIO Magazine writes about collaboration between companies and profiles the partnership between Apple, Cingular and Motorola regarding the ill-fated Rokr music phone. Roger Entner at Ovum has followed this collaborative effort with great interest and thought the Rokr "has been the red-haired stepchild for Apple, and the situation has been a “nightmare” for Motorola and Cingular." Entner said, “Clearly the Nano overshadowed the Rokr. If you look a the Apple website, it’s Nano, Nano, Nano. In the bottom corner is the Rokr.”

On why the companies partnered in the first place, Entner opined, "There’s been a resurgence of the brand in a miraculous way. [Motorola] wants to wow people with its devices." So while Moto thought it might be building something cool, Entner remarked "[Apple] didn’t want to make it too successful. Look at the device: This is literally last year’s phone...with some new software on it."

The article thinks the Rokr is "actually the result of thorny business issues and defenses against tons of potential lost revenue, and not related to any technological shortcoming. In the end, the trio of companies was so against cannibalizing one another’s revenue flows that they were thwarted in creating something that was innovative enough to be worth the trouble."

Entner added, "There’s a difference between partners and collaborators. In this game, Cingular and Motorola were more collaborators than partners. Usually between carriers and handset manufacturers there’s more of a partnership." Entner also noted that “The carrier owns the relationship in this country,” which probably wasn't to Apple's liking.

However, with all the bad blood, supposedly there will still be a version 2.0 of the Rokr. Entner said, "If the [next version] looks and feels like a Razr, then you have an iconic device...that would kick it out of the stratosphere."