BusinessWeek: iTunes phone on the rocks

Mar 26 2005 - 02:22 AM ET | Motorola, Rumor
Stories on Motorola's upcoming iTunes phone are more common and sometimes even less reality based than research on the health risks of mobile phones. On BusinessWeek Online, Roger Crockett and Peter Burrows talk of a gloomy future for the yet unseen device: bq. [Ed] Zander said Motorola and Apple want to hold off until the phone is closer to hitting store shelves. But three industry sources say a lack of support from such giant cellular operators as Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless was instrumental in delaying the unveiling. So far the wireless companies are reluctant to promote the Motorola/Apple phone. This of course isn't a new idea, just days after the partnership between Apple and Motorola was announced, analysts predicted the carriers would balk at not getting money from music. Listing both Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless as possible carriers for the device is odd since the two companies use very different network technology that makes phones imcompatible across the two networks. If the phone will ship in the summer, something as important as network technology (either CDMA or GSM) has surely been worked out by now. While unlikely, it's possible that Motorola will peddle two versions, like it will soon do for the RAZR V3 and PalmOne does with the Treo. But since Motorola doesn't have a history of launching two versions of a phone simultaneously, it's a longshot. Motorola has made it clear that there will be multiple devices with iTunes built in, but most speculation has dealt with the first device (since it will show off the iTunes software). A second device dubbed the Motorola ROKR is set to debut later and ship towards the fourth quarter. The BusinessWeek article points out that the upcoming Motorola phone isn't the only game in town: bq. While Apple and Motorola may object, wireless operators can buy music-downloading handsets from phonemakers that are willing to play by their rules -- perhaps aggressive Asian players such as Samsung and LG. "There is a sweet spot in mobility and music," says James P. Ryan, Cingular's vice-president for consumer data services. It's a nice thought, but nearly all phones that sport music functions (including the models from Samsung and LG) also include memory cards that make it easy to drag song files onto the phone from a computer. A memory card slot, such as MiniSD, is the easiest way for phone makers to increase storage. The Motorola E725 doesn't have iTunes, but it does feature music functions and a memory card slot. It also sports a iPod like wheel and EV-DO so it can support music downloads and real time streaming.