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Apple Official Confirms iTunes-Motorola Hook-Up

By Jennifer LeClaire MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Dec 17, 2004 10:29 AM PT

A Motorola cell phone that plays songs from Apple's iTunes Music Store could be right around the corner, Apple's iTunes chief reportedly has confirmed.

Apple Official Confirms iTunes-Motorola Hook-Up

ITunes chief Eddy Cue, in an interview with Forbes, commented: "We've said we have something coming on this in the first half of 2005 and we're definitely on schedule for that. Hopefully you'll be able to see more about it soon."

Apple initially announced a deal on July 26 to put a special version of iTunes software onto Motorola cell phones. Owners of certain high-end handsets will be able to download to their phones songs stored in both Mac and Windows versions of iTunes, including songs purchased from iTMS.

Opportunity Abounds

Why would Apple take its popular iTunes to the mobile market when it seems to generate revenue a plenty with its iPod device? Apple head honcho Steve Jobs shared his reasoning when the companies first announced their plans to co-labor last July. The goal is to take advantage of the next-generation mobile phone market.

"The mobile phone market -- with 1.5 billion subscribers expected worldwide as of the end of this year -- is a phenomenal opportunity to get iTunes in the hands of even more music lovers around the world, and we think Motorola is the ideal partner to kick this off," Jobs said.

However, do these sheer numbers necessarily translate into adoption? Do people want MP3s on their cell phone? IDC mobile devices analyst David Linsalata told MacNewsWorld that there is a market for a mobile phone that plays iTunes. Nokia has already introduced an MP3-playing phone. However, there are still questions about preserving digital rights.

Apple's Control

Apple has prevented songs sold by iTMS from being played on other digital devices in the past with its encoded digital-rights management (DRM) system dubbed FairPlay. However, the Motorola mobile handsets will be able to carry about a dozen iTunes songs downloaded from a PC or Macintosh in the first half of next year.

What makes this announcement special, Linsalata said, is that Apple is working with Motorola to allow DRM-protected content to go to a handset.

"Apple is very protective of iTunes music," Linsalata said. "It's significant that Apple trusts Motorola to ensure that its right can be maintained on a portable device. This is a very big step, or at least the first step, in making sure that DRM content can move onto a mobile device."

ITunes's Cue could not be reached immediatley for comment.

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