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Moto’s Zander on Where the Innovation Lies September 6, 2006

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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I have kind of a long history with Fast Eddie Zander. As a young reporter, I quoted the then Apollo Computer marketing VP Zander’s umm, salty comments verbatim, and received a dressing down mandated by Puritan sr. mgmt. Zander himself was kind and charming to a terrifed reporter who thought his career was over. And at one point, I was, like, the lead reporter (and later the 2nd lead analyst) on what they used to call “workstations,” and so followed Zander from Apollo through Sun. Blah blah.

Now he’s running Motorola, which, ironically, is no longer a chip company but back to its roots in consumer electronics. Zander’s still one of the smartest guys in industry. This Newsweek interview, though caged, is a must-read.

    Will Apple sell its own mobile phone?
    It wouldn’t surprise me if a number of consumer-technology companies start making phones. As an industry, we ship close to a billion handsets a year. A quarter of a billion PCs are sold a year, which we used to think was phenomenal. The phone is innovating at a rate that exceeds greatly the rate of the PC. The rate of innovation on the PC was tightly controlled [by Microsoft and Intel]. This paradigm has many more players.

Yes, I’m (re-)thinking a lot about cell phones versus dedicated music players this month. And yes, I just got — that is, paid for, not “tried out via loaner” — a new cell phone: a Moto Slvr (it nosed out the Pebl). But the L6, not the iTunes one. While not a gadget guy, neither am I a normal (music) consumer. I have a few iPods; some even paid for. Phones must fit in jeans pockets and look cool. FWIW, the Moto UI is crap, while the industrial design rocks. When, oh, when, will Nokia get its mojo back?

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