Motorola indefinitely postpones Apple iTunes phone unveiling

“Motorola Inc. was set to unveil on Thursday its first iTunes phone–a much-anticipated model capable of playing music bought from a popular Apple Computer Web site. But the Schaumburg cell phone manufacturer canceled at the last minute. And the reason speaks volumes about the balance of power between cell phone-makers and phone service providers, a balance increasingly tilted toward the latter, analysts say,” Mike Hughlett reports for The Chicago Tribune.

“Motorola had previewed the iTunes phone to the media earlier this week, with the intent of publicly announcing it Thursday. Then the company got a last-minute message from a wireless carrier or carriers, and indefinitely postponed the announcement–a highly unusual occurrence,” Hughlett reports. “Why would a wireless carrier have such sway with the world’s second-largest cell phone-maker? Because of the unique structure of the industry: Wireless carriers–particularly in the U.S.–buy phones and then often subsidize their cost to consumers.”

“The iTunes phone that was to debut Thursday has a display screen akin to the iPod. It is capable of holding up to 100 songs, depending on how much a buyer wants to pay for memory cards, a Motorola executive said earlier this week,” Hughlett reports. “At the top end of song storage, the first iTunes phone has about the same capacity as one variation of Apple’s new iPod Shuffle MP3 player. The first iTunes phone also has a stereo headset jack and is enabled with Bluetooth, a wireless technology.”

“The phone is supposed to hit the market this summer. But Motorola had planned to unveil it Thursday in conjunction with the start of CeBIT, a big technology and electronics tradeshow in Hanover, Germany. The company killed the unveiling after discussions late Tuesday night with ‘our operators,’ said Monica Rohleder, a Motorola spokeswoman. Motorola discussed ‘the logistics of this product with our carriers across the globe,’ she said. The result: ‘We decided to wait to announce it when everybody is in sync with it.’ The announcement will come when the phone gets closer to hitting the market, Rohleder said,” Hughlett reports.

Full article here.

[Update, 9:39am ET: added the following from Playlist, amended the take]

“Another iTunes-capable phone made by Motorola dubbed the ROKR may make its debut later this month at the Miami Music Multimedia conference in Miami, Fla. The event takes place March 23 – 26, 2005. Motorola director of entertainment Alberto Moriondo has said that his company plans to release several iTunes-capable phones,” Peter Cohen reports for Playlist. “This isn’t the first false start since Motorola and Apple first announced plans to work together in July, 2004. Motorola was first supposed to show off the phone at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, but cancelled plans to do so ostensibly to maintain a competitive advantage against other cell phone makers.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Unusual. Are service providers fighting each other over the iTunes phone? Or something else? The service carriers that have this phone will have a huge service differentiator from the other carriers that lack iTunes compatibility. iTunes could prove to be a very big deal for Motorola. One can only imagine what would happen if Apple made a line of cell phone units – or added the capability to iPod and/or iPod mini via the Dock Connector. Of course, it could also be that Motorola is having trouble getting carriers, since the phones get loaded via iTunes and the computer instead of over the carrier’s networks.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Motorola says it’s working on more iTunes phones, some models ‘can store eight hours of music’ – March 10, 2005
Motorola’s ‘ROKR’ Apple iTunes mobile phone to be unveiled this Thursday – March 06, 2005
Motorola’s yet-to-be-unveiled ‘ROKR’ phone will be first Apple iTunes phone – February 16, 2005
Motorola E1060 not, repeat not, the iTunes phone – February 16, 2005
Motorola executive previews iTunes Phone at CES, syncs to iTunes like an Apple iPod – January 06, 2005
Apple’ prodigious hardware and software design skills may help Motorola create iPod phone – December 28, 2004
Apple, Motorola iTunes on cell phones a harmonious deal that benefits both companies – August 05, 2004
Motorola posts Steve Jobs’ Apple iTunes announcement video – July 28, 2004
Apple, Motorola iTunes deal not exclusive, debuts Apple’s licensing of FairPlay DRM – July 27, 2004
Motorola and Apple to bring iTunes Music Player to Motorola’s next-gen mobile phones – July 26, 2004

25 Comments

  1. That is the end (for a long time) of the iPod-type phone.

    Big behind the scenes politics going on…(think Microsoft). The monopoly monster is starting to move again.

    Now you know why Apple stock is dropping.

    Watch a new phone come out that plays song —in a format that Bill Gates likes…

  2. I second that

    People usually pay at least $2.50 for a ringtone in the US, downloaded via the phone, which can get you extra charges if you don’t have an internet plan in your phone… so there’s a lot of revenue for carriers over music for cellphones.

    So why would they want you to get your songs from iTunes and then put them in the phone via a cable or bluetooth? What’s in it for carriers?
    I’m sure they are not fighting over who gets iTunes, they are trying to convince Moto not to release the phone…

  3. Maybe cell carriers want to work with Apple to sell music via cellphone and thats why they put the announcement on hold…

    Carriers want to squeeze every penny possible out of there customers selling them songs from iTunes is another opportunity at additional revenue for them.

  4. I’m surprised Motorola got this far at all. The operators still thinks they can lock in content. And over charge.
    When is the Apple phone coming?
    I won’t buy a new cell phone until then.

  5. hmm, I think I agree with the first poster

    not good at all, and you KNOW microsoft is all up in this, as even now they are squashing any other kind of phone OS already

  6. Tit’s pretty clear ..they want to quash it…because of they would lose alot of money in ringtone sales….who would pay 2 bucks for a crappy midi file ….when you can get the real deal for 99 cents…..theres is no doubt that this is the reason why this happened

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