Daring Fireball‘s pithy reminder that Apple needed the iPhone, if only to cover its shame after the introduction of the iTunes ROKR Motorola phone comes at a poignant time. Four years ago at a special media event, an unusually sedate Jobs painfully demoed the unit in the oral equivalent of losing to Portsmouth.
The ROKR phone was a desperate attempt at marketing iTunes to a new generation of media phones which had begun to gobble up market share among casual music fans. Unfortunately, the Motorola phone was neither a really inspiring handset, nor a decent iPod and Steve’s – two factors which contributed to Steve’s choking contempt for the unit.
Its lacklustre introduction was further marred by Apple’s restriction that the phone couldn’t hold more than 100 songs at a time, despite touting 512 MB internal memory and a MicroSD card slot. The ROKR could have been better, but it was no redemptive Messiah for the cellular world; its role as precursor to the iPhone is reminiscent of the martyr, John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus.
Two years later, Apple spread the good news and millions of iPhones to an expectant worldwide audience. But, redemption came later, when 2.0 ushered in the App Store and set ablaze the hearts of converts across the globe.