When it comes to innovation, first, "make it do what it do."

09 Feb 2006|Added Value

Last year I blogged about the lack of “it” phones. While I was initially dissappointed with Motorola’s Razr, the company has really turned around my impression and has continued to innovate, with new models including the Razr V3C for Verizon (which I have and LOVE!), Razr’s in different colors, the Pebl, and most interestingly, the Slvr.

The Slvr is particularly interesting because it illustrates an important point about innovation that crosses or blends categories.

Not only is the Slvr a super-thin, candy-bar style evolution of the Razr, it also incorporates Apple’s iTunes music player to play music.

This alone is not news. Motorola tried that last year with the Rokr which most agree was a flop.

So why should the Slvr be any different?

Because this time Motorola understood a key point: before a adding new capabilities (i.e. playing music) to an existing device, make sure it excels on its primary application (i.e. being a phone).

A major problem with Rokr was that, as a phone, it was pretty boring. It was basically an existing Motorola model painted white, and not a very interesting model at that. Since it only played 100 songs, it would never replace an iPod; music was a nice extra.

In contrast, the Slvr is an amazing phone in its own right. It shares many of the design innovations of the Razr, and takes them even further. You want the Slvr because it’s a cool phone. Then, as an added bonus, it includes the same iTunes music features that the Rockr had.

This strategy is similar to what Apple just did with the iPod. The 5th generation iPod is not a “video iPod;” it’s just the latest iPod, which is even thinner, slicker, and happens to play video as well. In other words, it continues to push the envelope as a digital music device, and then adds a new application, video.

This seems to be the way to go, rather than trying to cram as many features as possible into an “all-in-one device.” Not that people aren’t trying.

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