Razr glitch causes sales halt
Razr glitch causes sales halt
Some units may cut off phone calls
By Mike Hughlett
Tribune staff reporter
Published March 10, 2006
Two big U.S. wireless phone companies this week temporarily stopped selling the Razr--one of Motorola Inc.'s hottest selling phones--because of a defect that causes calls to disconnect.
A Motorola spokesman said the problem affects a relatively small number of phones and is being fixed quickly. But Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile halted Razr sales to ensure that customers didn't get stuck with a bum phone.
"It's virtually impossible to identify at retail which units have the defective component," said Peter Dobrow, a T-Mobile spokesman.
T-Mobile stopped selling the Razr--a sleek device that has helped redefine cell phone design--late Wednesday after Schaumburg-based Motorola told it about the problem.
Cingular, one of the nation's two largest wireless carriers, pulled the Razr from store shelves Thursday as a precaution, said Jennifer Bowcock, a Cingular spokeswoman.
Such sales suspensions "don't happen that often and especially not with such a hot product like the Razr," said Roger Entner, a wireless industry analyst at market researcher Ovum.
The Razr is a "flip-phone," with two pieces held together with a hinge. Normally when the phone is flipped open, the call is connected. When it's shut, the call is disconnected.
In the problem Razrs, a component was misreading the phone as closed when it was flipped open, cutting off calls.
Alan Buddendeck, a Motorola spokesman, said the problem affects a "a very limited number" of phones shipped to U.S. wireless operators after Feb. 1. He declined to specify the number of phones. "It will be resolved in a matter of days at worst," he said.
Customers who purchased Razrs with the flip problem can exchange them through T-Mobile and Cingular, said Buddendeck, who added that no Razrs are being recalled.
Motorola has already solved the issue at the manufacturing level, Buddendeck said. He declined to say where the problem phones were manufactured. Most Motorola phones are made in Asia.
The glitch does not affect Razrs sold through Verizon Wireless, because Verizon uses a different wireless technology than Cingular and T-Mobile.
The main issue for Motorola, Cingular and T-Mobile is to identify which phones in inventory need to be returned. Dobrow said T-Mobile expects to resume sales as early as next week.
Bowcock said Cingular customers can still order the Razr online, though they will have to wait for the phone to be restocked. Currently, the company's Web site says the Razr is "temporarily out of stock."
Bowcock said she wasn't sure when the Razr would be back in Cingular stores.
Mobile phones rarely post strong sales for more than a year, but the Razr, which first went on sale at Cingular in November 2004, continues to be a huge hit.
In 2005's fourth quarter, 29 percent of the 44.7 million phones Motorola shipped globally were based on Razr's thin platform, and most of those were Razrs.