“The ROKR, unveiled by Cingular and Motorola in partnership with Apple in September, failed to meet expectations. It has a sub-par limit of 100 songs and has been dogged by reports of rampant returns. American Technology Research analyst Albert Lin estimates it’s being returned at a faster clip than the average phone,” Roger O. Crockett reports for BusinessWeek. “Motorola says it has shipped a surprising 500,000 of the phones worldwide and disputes higher-than-usual return rates for the device. Still, Cingular and Motorola officials acknowledge their strategy for releasing the phone was a bit of a blunder. They allowed its introduction on the very same day that Apple unveiled its ultraslim iPod nano, a wisp of a gadget that holds up to 1,000 songs. By comparison, the ROKR is bulkier and not nearly as sleek. ‘I should have known better,’ Motorola CEO Ed Zander says of being overshadowed by the Nano.”
“Motorola and Cingular have bigger and better things planned for 2006. BusinessWeek has learned that Motorola will introduce a revamped version of the ROKR in the first quarter, updated to address the main criticisms of the first release,” Crockett reports. “Expect a phone with a 1 megapixel camera, a 3.5 millimeter earphone jack (same as the iPod uses), and enough storage capacity to hold 1,000 songs — all capabilities Motorola has confirmed. The current phone’s basic design will be replaced by a sleek new look, which sources close to the company say will be an elegant slider format. ‘We’ve learned a lot,’ says Motorola CEO Ed Zander. ‘We’re definitely building on the ROKR experience.'”
Crockett reports, “The first ROKR is compatible with Apple’s iTunes software, which allows users to download songs from the Apple site for a fee. As to whether the new ROKR will be compatible with iTunes, Motorola says that’s up to Cingular and Apple. ‘We will definitely do an iTunes version if that’s what Cingular wants,’ says Ron Garriques, head of Motorola’s phone division. Odds are, iTunes will be part of the package, though Garriques says Motorola and Cingular haven’t agreed to a lineup beyond Dec. 31.”
Full article here.
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Word on the street is that Apple didn’t only totally upstage Motorola’s ROKR iTunes phone with the release of the iPod nano, Apple also got Motorola to foot 100% of the event’s cost. Not like it cost that much, but it’s the principle; Zander has to still be fuming, although it sounds like he’s getting past his initial anger now.
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How Apple’s Steve Jobs snookered the entire cell phone industry – October 03, 2005
Motorola CEO Zander: Apple to build a smart phone, it’s only a matter of time – September 29, 2005
Motorola says ‘screw nano’ comment was joke – September 26, 2005
Motorola CEO Ed Zander on Apple iPod nano: ‘Screw the nano’ – September 26, 2005
Apple iPod division head: iPod and mobile phones best left separate – September 27, 2005
If Apple isn’t working on their own iPhone, they’re making a stupid mistake – September 12, 2005
Does Apple need a mobile phone of its own design? – September 09, 2005