Motorola ROKR iTunes phone introduced (updated) | iLounge News

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Motorola ROKR iTunes phone introduced (updated)

imageIn addition to the iPod nano and iTunes 5, Apple today introduced the long-awaited iTunes phone from Motorola. The new Motorola ROKR, which will be available exclusively through Cingular as expected, holds up to 100 songs and features a mobile iTunes player and dedicated music button to easily switch from phone to music and back again.

The Quad-band GSM/GPRS phone has a microSD (TransFlash) slot for up to 512MB of storage, a VGA Camera with 4x zoom, Bluetooth, a color display for viewing album art, and built-in dual-stereo speakers. It is incompatible with standard headphones, but comes with an adapter as well as a set of stereo headphones that also serve as a mobile headset with microphone.

Apple said users can randomly autofill or manually fill the phone with playlists of music, audiobooks and Podcasts from their iTunes library via a USB connection. The phone also pauses music automatically when users take a call.

The Motorola ROKR with iTunes pre-installed is available immediately for $249.99 with a two-year commitment. Pricing without contract was not immediately available.

“We’ve worked closely with Motorola to deliver the world’s best music experience on a mobile phone,? said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re also thrilled to be working with Cingular, the largest wireless carrier in the US, to bring this pioneering phone to market.?

“The ROKR brings music to the mobile phone in a way unlike any other, with the unrivaled ease of use that has become the signature of iTunes,? said Ed Zander, chairman and CEO of Motorola. “We predict that the ROKR is going to be a hit this holiday season.?

“We’re excited to be the first wireless carrier to offer the world’s first phone with iTunes to our customers nationwide,? said Ralph de la Vega, chief operating officer of Cingular Wireless. “This innovative product represents a world class handset, connected to a world class network, delivering a world class application.?

Update

We were not especially impressed with the ROKR phone, which is quite clearly a generic Motorola industrial design with an interface taken directly from the company’s recent V-series (V600, RAZR V3) phones rather than evolved and improved in any significant way. The integrated iTunes Client software feels like it has been grafted onto an existing phone - with all of its interface flaws - rather than evolved into a new phone design. Consequently, ROKR doesn’t feel as much like an iPod Phone as a phone that happens to play songs transferred from iTunes.

The headphones are silver in color and feature a clear cord with silver interior metal. Photographs of the phone showed orange, Cingular-style ear foams being used, but these foams were not available on the units on the show floor. You will be able to use your own headphones with an included 2.5mm to 3.5mm conversion cable, which will be short in length, Cingular’s representative said.

ROKR’s Bluetooth support is incomplete from a musical standpoint. According to a Cingular representative on the show floor, you cannot listen to music via Bluetooth headsets - a statement that we were surprised to hear, and may prove incorrect on special stereo headsets, but proved accurate on the monaural HS820 unit we brought for testing. However, audio played through the unit’s integrated speakers and included headphones sounded at least adequate. We’ll reserve final judgment for our upcoming review.

The biggest disappointment of the iTunes Phone (ROKR) was its interface, which primarily because of the baggage of the Motorola operating system was clunky and confusing. In attempting to demonstrate its ability to resume playback after a phone call, Apple CEO Steve Jobs could not get the feature to work, saying that he had pressed a wrong button. We found the same problem to be fairly common when using the handset in person, as Motorola’s own menus overlaid with Apple’s iTunes Client commands led to a less than satisfying overall experience. In retrospect, it was not a surprise to see that Apple is describing ROKR as an phone plus an iPod shuffle, as the experience is not nearly as good as a phone combined with a full-sized iPod or nano.

That said, most of the functionality of a color-screened iPod was present in ROKR. Album artwork, ratings, song scrubbing and volume were all available, but the implementation of each feature was far less precise than with the iPod’s Click Wheel. Volume stepped up in large jumps rather than smoothly, and the transitions between songs and from screen to screen of the interface were slower than iPod users are accustomed to. A small joystick permitted sort of iPod shuffle-like access to menu, track, and volume changes, and a dedicated iTunes button brought up the music functionality no matter where you were in the phone’s menus.

Update #2

Motorola said the phone would be available in the following countries:

U.K. – available first with Carphone Warehouse, expected in mid-September and then with O2, followed by Orange, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile and other top retailers through September and October
France – expected to be available by late September through key retailers
Italy – expected to be available by late September through key retailers
Germany – expected to be available through distributor and operator channels in 2H 05
Canada – expected to be available in mid- to late-September with Rogers Wireless
Hong Kong – expected to be available by late September through multiple retail outlets and operator channels
Australia, Singapore and the Philippines – expected to be available late September through early October through retail and operator channels
Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other markets throughout the world – expected to be available in the fourth quarter

« Apple unveils iPod nano (updated)

Apple releases iTunes 5 »

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Comments

21

i really dont see the big deal, its just a freaking phone enabled with itunes, its not suppose to be a ipod/cell phone. it probably wont be the last either, im preatty sure in like a year or less, most phone would enable itunes, not just cingular, but hopefully sprint as well. if u want something that holds more that 100 songs, invest in a ipod shuffle or the nano.

Posted by Navas on September 8, 2005 at 9:03 AM (PDT)

22

So, since this isn’t an iPod phone, It’s just like having iTunes available for Windows.

You could have a POS PC and it can have iTunes on it. It doesn’t make apple look bad since it’s not running on an apple product.

Posted by skw on September 8, 2005 at 11:58 AM (PDT)

23

I bought this last night and it is going back today.

The phone firmware limits the number of songs to 100 no matter the size of the chip.  I tested this by making 150 small mp3’s and attempted to transfer them over.  They did not all go.  iTunes stopped the transfer after 100.

After having a Razr for the last few months, this phone is a huge disapointment.  Purchased for $399 w/o contract at Cingular.

Posted by Jann on September 9, 2005 at 2:40 PM (PDT)

24

Hello
Am intrested in purchasing 200 pieces of the Motorola ROKR iTunes phone ,please note that if your can be able to supply the total quantity of the product, the payment will be made through TT bank transfer only.mind you get back to me if you can be able to supply this product or if you dont have up to the total quantity we demanded for in stock.
We look towards your urgent response.

Posted by terry ray on September 12, 2005 at 1:51 PM (PDT)

25

Your site is realy very interesting.

Posted by Werea on September 17, 2005 at 1:27 AM (PDT)

26

What a lot of folks seem to be missing here is that Apple didn’t have much say on the design end of this product. They were approached by Moto about a license, and they agreed to license iTunes and push the pproduct when it arrived. That’s all. Motorola execs weren’t sure this concept would be a winner (because of resistance from carriers, not for lack of customer demand), so instead of comitting resources and money to developping a new design with Apple, they grabbed a cheap design off their shelves and Frankenwelded iTunes capability onto it.

Seriously, look at the nano, released at the same time as the ROKR. Do you really think Apple would release something as hideous and user-hateful as the ROKR?

Posted by Is on September 22, 2005 at 4:28 AM (PDT)

27

I, for one, don’t understand what so many are complaining about. I got my phone last night and I love it! It has all the features i need and more. It has saved me from going out and buying an IPod. I think too many expect too much from their phones these days and rely on them too much. Key words are its a PHONE.

I bought this phone for fun and am enjoying it. No complaints here.

Posted by Angel on January 21, 2006 at 5:07 PM (PDT)

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