ITunes phone launch expected in US next week

Apple and Motorola are expected to team up with Cingular next week to introduce an iTunes mobile phone.

Apple Computer and Motorola are expected to team up with Cingular Wireless next week to introduce an iTunes mobile phone in the US that can store and play digital music.

The companies are likely to announce the long-awaited device on Sept. 7, according to telecommunications analyst Roger Entner of Ovum, as well as published reports. Apple has said it would make a major product announcement at an event in San Francisco that day. Representatives of Apple, Motorola and Cingular all declined to comment.

The phone most likely will have storage capacity similar to the iPod Shuffle, which is available with as much as 1GB of flash memory, and use an online music service co-branded by both Apple and Cingular, according to Entner. That service probably will offer all the music available today on Apple's iTunes Music Store, he said. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that users will be able to download songs onto the phone from the iTunes music collections on their PCs. It was not clear whether they would be able to download songs over the mobile phone network, according to the Times.

The Journal also reported Tuesday that Apple may introduce a new line of single-purpose portable music players to replace the iPod Mini. They would have flash memory and be slimmer than the iPod Mini, the paper said.

Motorola announced last year that it would develop an iTunes phone with Apple. Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Weyrauch on Tuesday reiterated plans to introduce the device in the third quarter of this year. The companies originally had said it would come out in the first half of 2005.

Cingular, the largest mobile operator in the US with about 50 million customers, is a joint venture of SBC Communications and BellSouth.

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Stephen Lawson

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