Motorola ROKR shunned by consumers

Motorola ROKR shunned by consumers

Summary: The Motorola ROKR iTunes phones was one of the most anticipated products in recent memory, but a combination of compromises may leave it destined for the high tech recycling bin.

TOPICS: Mobility

motorola_rokr.jpgThe ROKR mobile phone is a joint venture between Motorola and Apple that promised to deliver the best of both worlds: a quality mobile phone with Apple iTunes built-in. What could be better? As it turns out the iTunes phone is built on a series of compromises that hobbles its functionality and makes it less than desirable to consumers.

The first problem with it is that you cannot download songs directly to the ROKR from the iTunes Music store wirelessly. You have to instead download them on a computer and sync them to the phone via USB. Apple and the carriers could not come to terms on a wireless download service because the carriers wanted upwards of $3 per song (a little more than they make for a ringtone, they reasoned) while Apple wanted to make songs available for the same 99 cents that they charge through iTunes.

The second major compromise is that the phone has a built-in limitation of 100 songs—no matter how much memory is in the phone. The thinking here is that Apple didn't want to make the ROKR too good for fears that it would compete with and potentially cannibalize sales of the iPod.

So where does this leave consumers? Extremely disappointed apparently.

According to a Bloomberg report the ROKR is off to a rough start "as many as six times more customers are returning the ROKR phones than is normal for new handsets." The ROKR is even the featured on the neon pink cover of the November 2005 issue of Wired magazine which loudly proclaims "You Call This The Phone of the Future? Inside the quest to build the ultimate music phone - and why Apple fell short."

If that wasn't bad enough, in another Bloomberg article Motorola CEO Ed Zander thinks that it may be a marketing problem, saying "People were looking for an iPod and that's not what it is. We may have missed the marketing message there."

It remains to be seen if Apple and the carriers will ever be able to reach an agreement to provide the iTunes phone that we all want. Mobile phone carriers want a piece of the action, DRM patent holders want to be cut in and Apple is hesitant to give away its market leadership in music downloads—which leaves the consumer holding the bag. Most consumers will probably wait for the next go around or simply buy a RAZR and a nano.


Topic: Mobility

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  • ROKR's problems...

    The ROKR phone does seem to be somewhat of a disappointment from what I've heard/read of it. It does seem rather inconvenient that you can't download the music directly to the phone, and even if you do decide to change the memory card in there, you practically have to dismantle the device to do so. (Shades of the N-Gage...)

    I'm sure it seemed like a good idea, but other than iTunes, there is little to recommend this over other music-capable cell phones.

    Maybe the next version will prove better (if there is a next version), but I'm not going to hold my breath just yet.
    Third of Five
  • Not impressive

    Moto's biggest failure was the rather bland appearance of the
    ROKR. They were working with one of the best companies in the
    industrial design field and they didn't ask for help in making the
    ROKR the best looking phone available? The combined release
    of the ROKR and the nano further emphasized the lack of design
    work in the ROKR.

    When it was announced I took one look, thought "so what" and
    went on to other things that were actually interesting. Obviously
    a lot of potential customers did the same thing.
  • ROKR shunned Apple

    "Mobile phone carriers want a piece of the action" I think apple will become it's own carrier.

    "DRM patent holders want to be cut in and Apple is hesitant to give away its market leadership in music downloads" - Apple does not want DRM on music but the hollystupid crowd see it as a lifesaver.

    "which leaves the consumer holding the bag." - Most consumers are having ball with all the free movies, tv shows and music a click away. Gimmie a break the only thing true about ROKR is Job's lack of interest in helping Motorola and sandwiching nano and vid iPod next ot ROKR, who likes lettuce anyway!
  • I saw the ROKR at the Apple Expo in Paris

    and it definitely underwhelms. And it was not adopted by any of
    Europe's cellphone carriers. AND it came out after the RAZR, the
    hottest phone on the market.

    I think there is a better chance of making an iPod a phone than a
    phone an iPod. I don't think Apple will make a phone, I think they
    will just help Motorola do it better.
  • Gee! Does this surprise anyone?

    Like most others here, I saw the 'rumour-images' of iPod Mini-like adaptations that were absolutely mouthwatering. Since they are still online, have a look at: or I think we all expected a LOT more from Apple than some lame looking phone. Call me naive, but my ASSUMPTION was that Motorola would be providing the 'tech & guts', not the industrial design too. It doesn't surprise me the least that this thing is a dud. (Yawn)
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