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Motorola Isn't Scared of the iPhone! Just Look at Our Choice of Punctuation!

By Matt Wood in News on Jan 16, 2007 7:34PM

Chicagoist admits that we're salivating over the announcement of the Apple iPhone as much as anyone, but as we discussed last week, we have some doubts about it too. After playing that guessing game once, however, we've decided to reserve further judgment until it's released to the public in June, when people not named Jobs have actually held an iPhone in their hands and put it through its paces.

chicagoist_200701_motorola.jpgThis hasn't stopped the hype machine from rolling along, both pro- and anti-iPhone. For every Apple enthusiast claiming that the iPhone will turn water into wine, there's someone else listing 10 reasons to hate it, which is why we find it all the more baffling that Motorola's Chief Technology Officer, Padmasree Warrior, felt the need to pen an op-ed column in today's Sun-Times titled "Hold the phone! iPhone bandwagon fills up too quickly." She's introduced as "an outspoken advocate of innovation," and true to form, she briefly praises Apple for the iPhone's design before proceeding to mock its features, from its purportedly sluggish networking to its screen's assumed propensity to scratch. Remember, she likely hasn't handled an iPhone either, but she's very certain in her convictions, evident by her liberal use of exclamation points.

Obviously Motorola has a lot to lose if Steve Jobs' latest creation succeeds, and clearly they were stung last week when his keynote speech at MacWorld upstaged their own product announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show. Ms. Warrior would probably say that her comments were in jest, meant to be good-natured ribbing in the spirit of competition, but we can think of no more obvious expression of fear than her column today. Such comments would be unprofessional and embarrassing if she had published them on her personal blog, let alone commandeered the pages of a major newspaper to do so (UPDATE - In fact, she did write about it on her blog). Sure, bashing the competition is an age-old marketing technique, and Apple is doing it right now with its "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads featuring John Hodgman. Yet it's one thing for a company to spend its own marketing dollars to do so, and quite another to beg for the help of the local rag.

For its part, the only possible explanation by the Sun-Times for whoring out its pages to a corporate shill would be that in the interest of providing coverage in favor of a local company, they felt the need to temper the enthusiasm over the iPhone. But if that's the case, why not have one of its own writers do it? What's next, McDonald's board members writing reviews of each new Burger King sandwich?

We can't decide which is more pathetic: Motorola publicly backing into a corner and baring its fangs out of fear, or the Sun-Times providing the corner for them to do so. Moto may be Chicago's dog in this fight, but now more than ever, we're rooting for the purebred greyhound from Cupertino.