It is understood a number of leading European mobile phone networks are seeking approval from Apple in order to provide the iTunes digital music jukebox to phone users. Tomorrow, Apple and Motorola will launch the long-awaited ROKR iPod phone in San Francisco as part of an alliance with US mobile carrier Cingular.
It is understood O2 is looking to offer the phone in the UK, while German operator T-Mobile revealed at a Berlin trade show it has plans to carry the device.
It is widely believed carriers have had a major change of heart towards the device. Original plans to launch the phones were held up by carrier ambivalence. However, since then a realisation that consumers like having access to key internet brands such as eBay, Google and iTunes on their mobiles as well as their PCs.
Siliconrepublic.com reported last week that Apple and Motorola were planning to unveil the ROKR, otherwise known as the E790, at an exclusive event on 7 September in the US.
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.
The launch of the phone will be supported by a high-profile advertising and marketing campaign involving iconic music figures Madonna and Iggy Pop.
By John Kennedy