iTunes phone to launch next week


2 Sep 2005

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On 7 September Motorola and Apple will launch a hotly anticipated iTunes phone, siliconrepublic.com has learned. Sources have revealed the device will be marketed with an advertising campaign featuring Iggy Pop and Madonna.

It is understood the phone was originally intended to launch this week but last-minute hitches with Apple and mobile networks in the US caused a postponement of the launch.

However, according to industry sources, Apple, Motorola and US wireless carrier Cingular are planning to launch the device at an event next Wednesday in the US.

It is understood the candybar-styled phone will be termed the E790 but marketing campaigns will dub the device the ROKR.

The move towards music will be a major strategic shift for Motorola and follows on similar steps taken by Sony Ericsson and Nokia. During the summer, Sony Ericsson unveiled the Walkman phone while Nokia devices have featured RealPlayer capabilities for some time.

According to Apple’s most recent quarterly figures, the company shipped some 6.2 million iPods, an incredible 616pc increase on the same period last year.

A spokesperson for Motorola in Ireland declined to comment on the launch date, but told siliconrepublic.com: “The joint venture is on track for this iTunes phone. As previously communicated, Motorola and Apple are partnering to enable millions of music lovers to transfer their favourite iTunes songs to Motorola’s next-generation mobile music phone and everything is on track.

“The product is expected to be available by the end of the third quarter,” she explained.

The general industry consensus is that the phone will be launched by 30 September, but industry sources affirmed that the launch is planned to take place next Wednesday.

It is expected the device will be able to connect to a PC to download music from iTunes. However, various reports suggest users will eventually be able to download music directly on to the handset via a wireless network, suggesting the dual GSM/Wi-Fi capability predicted for new devices and dreaded by stuck-in-the-mud mobile network operators could see its proper beginning with the ROKR phone, or at least in subsequent versions.

Siliconrepublic.com has also learned the device will be launched into the Irish market in early October, in time for the traditionally hot sales season of mobiles in the run-up to Christmas.

By John Kennedy