Motorola to redesign ROKR iTunes phone with new sleek look and 1,000 song capacity in early 2006

“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.

Related article:
Motorola SLVR mobile phone with Apple iTunes – November 09, 2005
Cingular slashes Motorola ROKR iTunes phone price – November 09, 2005
Motorola unveils RAZR V3i Apple iTunes-capable mobile phone – November 08, 2005
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


  1. To blame failure of the ROKR on the Nano is so lame. The design is uninspiring to start with. They should have done it right to start with. Or perhaps they should have just made the RAZR into the ROKR and been done with it.

  2. Get over it RainFreak. As a manufacturing company, “produced” and “shipped” are legitimate reported financial terms. Mean what they say, and this was covered in the analyst conference calls; you have to ship them before they are sold. Nothing improper, deceptive, or misleading. So, get over it. And it has nothing to do with the company’s design talents. But maybe there’s a job there for you?!

  3. Silliness has a point here. Even with a single distribution point (Cingular) it is difficult for a supplier to get actual “units sold” numbers. You think Apple is calling everyone from CompUSA to RadioShack to the guy on eBay to tally the number of iPods sold? Heck no! They fill the channel and re-fill as needed. It is nearly as accurate because resellers do reorder what they can’t sell.

    MDN word: water

  4. me and silliness,

    Are both of you freaking kidding?? Manufacturing companies pay millions of dollars in analytics for warehouse distribution. They pay through their teeth to forcasters that look at units SOLD data and predict future sales.

    Seriously guys every unit counts.. why the freak do u think everything has a bar code? LOL how innocent are you fools to think “oh they just make x number of units for everyone” LMAO please dont be this way you are freaking macheads for crying out loud. Live up to the sterotype and be smart about your words and thinking.

    By saying they Shipped an X amount as opposed to we SOLD X amount is a tell tale sign that the forecasters got their shit wrong. A scapegoat of sorts.

    Manufacturing companies keep track of every unit made. Believe me, theres a reason why we have serial numbers and barcodes. Even vendor parts that make a product (hard drives, chips, memory) all have serial numbers or barcodes. EVEN they keep track of their shit.

    MW: Always as in Why do i always get the dumb ones.

  5. why the freak do u think everything has a bar code?

    You idiot. Every bar code on like products is the same. It’s a product number. Every Rokr has the same Bar Code.
    Of course they track who they sell to… but they don’t use barcodes to track individual products.

    Now, if we’re talking RFID tags in the near future… that’s different.

  6. Maybe it’s me but I think Apple is missing something here. They should be making an iTunes application that can run on any number of phones not just the ROKR and not just the RAZR. Put it on any phone for anyone who wants it. If Apple ties itself to just the one phone that Moto makes and then Moto changes its mind then Apple is left in the cold. Don’t be tied to only one carrier either. There are dozens of phones out there that run music applications. Apple should be targeting all of them.

  7. Okay, Tantrum-boy, I mean “RainFreak”: Please share with us an example of a manufacturer reporting units sold to consumers. All I’ve ever seen is “units shipped”. This includes Macs, iPods, cell phones, PS2s, XBoxes, anything that’s made and sold is reported to the financial media in numbers of units shipped.

  8. RainFreak has been out in the “freaking” acid rain me thinks!

    So much venom for such a pathetic little topic.

    MW – fact – as in it is a FACT that SJ graphs UNITS SHIPPED (ex-Apple), not units sold to customers in his “freaking” graphs!!! When he says “units sold” he is refering to the fact that that is the number of units sold BY APPLE.

    I am assuming RainFreak that you aren’t so STUPID to think that the financial markets would tolerate reporting of units sold from retailers. For eg (so you may understand the point), Apple may sell 1 million Macs in a Quarter, but the retailers may sell 1.2 million (they are running down inventory for some reason – say they know that Intel Macs are coming and they don’t want to be left holding legacy stock). Now FINACNIALLY Apple have ONLY SOLD 1 million Macs, they CANNOT LEGALLY report that they sold 1.2 million because they didn’t!!! However they will use this information about 1.2 million units sold as an indication of DEMAND, and hence use this info in their forecasting for production.

    Get it mate?

    PEACE love and mung beans!

    my 2 cents


  9. Just picked up my ROKR this week.

    Here in Canada the ROKR is $99 Canadian for a 3 year contract. I think of it as a “better” iPod shuffle (which is $129Cdn for 120 songs). Certainly the ROKR’s ear buds have better base than my iPod’s ear buds

    I think the problem for Motorola is that Cingular priced it way too high. At$249US people’s expectations were that it stored far more songs.

    Just my 2¢

    MW: “Hear” as in “I hear American’s got ripped off” (sorry).

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