Motorola iTunes Phone Not Selling Well

Cingular is struggling to sell the much-hyped iTunes phone as data indicates return rates are as much as six times higher than launches for other new phones. However, Motorola is determined to fix the marketing issues and make the phone a success, CEO Ed Zander said in an interview with Bloomberg News Service.

News of high return rates is the latest setback for Motorola's ROKR, which received a cool reception at its launch and has been criticized for its non-Apple feel.

Zander said the problem could lie in the fact that the device is being marketed like an iPod, while the ROKR is more Motorola than it is a phone version of Apple's ubiquitous music player. "We may have missed the marketing message there," he acknowledged.

Pricing could also be an issue among consumers. The phone sells for $249.99 USD with a two-year contract for Cingular. While the ROKR adds the iTunes software, it can only store 100 songs. In comparison, a 4GB Nano can store ten times as many songs for the same price.

Motorola has put star power behind the ROKR, with commercials featuring Madonna, Little Richard and other musicians. However, even pop icons cannot seem to save the troubled phone, as compatibility problems with the iTunes software have tarnished customers' experiences.

According to data from American Technology Research, about 83,000 iTunes phones were sold per week from its launch September 7 until the end of the quarter. In comparison, the company's popular RAZR phone sold some 500,000 units per week.

Motorola says that United States reviewers were unfairly comparing the device to the iPod, which could have hurt sales. According to the company, the ROKR is selling much better overseas, where reviews have been less negative.

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