Motorola: 'Screw Nano' Comment a Joke

At a leadership seminar in California Friday, Motorola CEO Ed Zander talked about his role in rebuilding the phone maker's brand. But when answering a question from the audience about the iPod Nano, Zander apparently lost his cool saying, "Screw the Nano. What the hell does the Nano do? Who listens to 1,000 songs?"

Motorola, however, has fired back and claims IDG News Service, which first reported the outburst, is taking the comment completely out of context. Company officials say Zander was smiling and joking when he responded to the question, and he did praise Apple and its iPod.

"Motorola has a great partnership with Apple. Unfortunately Ed Zander's comments, made at a conference in California on Friday, were taken out of context," Motorola said in a statement.

The iTunes-capable ROKR has been met with a fairly cold reception since the start. Even on the day of its debut, Apple's Nano stole the show and Motorola was left on the sidelines as Steve Jobs wowed the crowds with a new iPod no thicker than a #2 pencil.

"During the Q&A session one questioner repeatedly and insistently asked what Zander thought of the Nano. Jokingly, Zander said he wasn't there to talk about the Nano - but to talk about the next big thing happening in the industry - the fusion of the phone and music. ROKR with iTunes was a good beginning, he said, and there's more to come," the statement continued.

Motorola says that the 1,000 song remark was simply a joke in response to part of the question that asked why the ROKR only held a maximum of 100 songs. It has been widely reported that Apple -- not Motorola -- imposed the restriction to keep the iTunes phone from affecting sales of the iPod.

Nonetheless, Motorola is working hard to clean up the public relations debacle, even though Zander himself has no problems with the new iPod. Sources tell BetaNews that Zander actually bought two Nanos following the product's launch.

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