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Motorola sees new Rokrs in 2006

First music-playing model was received less warmly by consumers than had been expected.

Motorola expects to introduce new versions of its music player Rokr phone next year, a top executive said on Wednesday.

Ron Garriques, head of Motorola's mobile unit, said the company plans to launch a more stylish Rokr phone in the first quarter and will follow with another Rokr that can download songs wirelessly around mid-year.

Music is seen as one of the next hot features in cell phones, although the first Rokr, which includes Apple Computer's popular iTunes music software, was received less warmly by consumers than had been expected.

The first Rokr had limited room for songs and was not seen as svelte as Motorola's Razr phone, which has became a design icon.

Garriques said the company had learned some lessons from the weaker-than-expected reception for the phone, which looked nothing like an iPod or a Razr. He said the next version would not necessarily be limited to iTunes software, depending on carrier demand.

Motorola would put whatever music software, including iTunes, that operators demand its next Rokr, he said.

"Any time a carrier wants iTunes they can have it," Garriques told investors at the UBS Global Communications Conference.

Garriques briefly showed a slide of a slicker-looking phone that more closely resembled the Razr than the first Rokr as he briefly previewed the next Rokr which will also include a megapixel camera and stereo headphones.

Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola trails only Finland's Nokia in the global market for cell phone sales but many analysts believe the U.S. company's Razr family puts it way ahead in terms of phone designs.

Garriques said he expects sales of the Razr to continue to be strong and to peak in 2007.

Asked about Nokia's $430 million agreement to buy mobile e-mail management company Intellisync, Garriques said he knew the company had been up for sale but was not willing to pay as much as Nokia.

"We didn't believe it would have differentiated us enough to be worthy of those types of valuations," he said.

Garriques also said that Motorola does not plan to join a group of vendors, including Nokia, that recently complained about wireless technology developer Qualcomm's competitive practices to the European Commission.

Motorola's shares closed up 24 cents or more than 1 percent at $22.78 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.