Having hit a flat note with its first music phone, Motorola (MOT) will try again next year with two new versions of the Rokr.
Motorola's head of mobile phones, Ron Garriques, told investors at the UBS Global Communications Conference in New York that the company blew it with the first Rokr. He blamed a poor "message," though it's worth noting that critics called the phone ugly and took a dim view of its puny 100-song limit.
On Wednesday, though, Garriques promised to make up for past mistakes. He showed a slide featuring a black Rokr 2, the next version of the music phone. He then teased the crowd with a few soft-core glimpses of the Rokr 3, which struck some observers as resembling
new Walkman. Motorola rose 24 cents Wednesday to $22.78.
Due out next summer, the Rokr 3 will feature wireless music downloads to make phone companies happy, and a hefty 1,000-song capacity to appease users. There's no word yet if the new phone will use
Motorola's handset chief also said the sleek rounded Pebl phone is shipping now in the U.S. and Asia. Slvr, the candy-bar version of Razr, will hit the market with one customer in the coming weeks.
Investors have marveled at Motorola's rebirth as a design leader in the cell-phone industry. A year ago, the company dipped briefly into third place behind South Korea's Samsung. But thanks to the runaway popularity of its thin metal Razr phone, the Schaumburg, Ill., tech titan has boosted sales and won market share.
"They're wickedly cool, as I think they call it," says Allan Campbell, chief investment officer with Daiwa Asset Management, who attended the presentation.
But can Motorola's new models duplicate the success of Razr?
Razr is a clamshell-style folding phone, as is the Pebl. But Slvr is a candy bar, which is the style of the majority of the phones in the market.
Garriques, for one, was confident there were even greater successes coming down the line with Slvr. He says Slvr may pick up exactly where Razr left off.
Referring to unit volume, Garriques said: "I can envision Slvr being equal in 2006 to where Razr was in 2005." Motorola is expected to sell nearly 20 million Razrs this year.
And if the four-letter name game isn't already played out, Motorola promises to soon offer the Sldr, a slide-opening design, and Rotr, for a screen that rotates.
"I'm no judge of design, but right now they are doing everything right," says Campbell. "Who knows how long that can continue."