Instant Expert: Apple/Motorola iTunes Phone

Instant Expert: Apple/Motorola iTunes Phone 1

In late July 2004, Apple Computer and Motorola jointly announced development of a Motorola-branded GSM phone that will play music transferred from any computer’s iTunes jukebox, including downloads from the iTunes Music Store. On January 11, 2005, Apple said that the first Motorola phones to use its “iTunes client” software will be rolled out in Spring 2005.

Why is this a good thing for music lovers? Competitors’ downloadable ringtones for telephones are lower-fidelity, shorter, and often more expensive than using your own music or iTunes downloads. Ringtones for Danger’s Sidekick, for example, sell for nearly $2 a piece, and only include roughly 30 seconds of each song. iTunes tracks will sound better, play longer, and cost less.

Why is this a good idea for Apple and Motorola? The companies have enjoyed a strong business relationship for much of the Macintosh’s lifespan – even including a brief period when Apple licensed Motorola to sell its own MacOS-compatible computers – and Apple can only gain from expanding the reach of iTunes to Motorola customers. This project will likely yield additional quiet dividends in the form of wireless phone industry expertise which Apple might later exploit against international competitors Microsoft and Sony, both of which have wireless phone divisions.

Why is this deal surprising? Motorola and Apple are currently competitors in the portable digital music market, with Motorola’s most significant push to release iPod-competing products coming after the official announcement.

What can we expect from these phones? It’ll be a miniature flash memory-based iPod inside of a cellular phone, apparently complete with an iPod interface. Based on an early photograph (below) of a Motorola iTunes-friendly phone, it appears that Motorola’s version of the iPod interface will be very similar to the iPod photo’s newer, color screened interface, lacking only its Myriad font and some of its finer visual touches. Motorola will replace the iPod’s famed Click Wheel with a joystick and buttons interface, with features such as “Back” and “Pause” mapped to buttons, volume mapped to the joystick.


The phones initially shown by Apple and Motorola resemble Motorola’s existing tri-band GSM phone E398, which uses a 176×220 pixel, 65,000-color screen identical to the one found in the company’s V300/500/600 series phones, a stereo headphone jack, and a battery that runs for roughly 3 hours when playing back MP3 files (7 to 9 for conversations). The E398 also includes a 640×480 camera, plays MPEG-4 video clips and J2ME games, and uses miniature removable TransFlash memory cards. It’s lightweight at 3.88 ounces and measures 4.25” x 1.81” x 0.81”. It’s currently unknown as to whether any of the Apple/Motorola handsets will feature any or all of these specifications, but both Apple and Motorola have now shown pictures of the E398 in public events touting their partnership.

How much will one of these things cost? Apple has stated that it wants the new product to be mainstream in price – not a $500 wireless phone. The E398, for reference, is a $399 phone that sells for under $270, sometimes as little as $220. We would expect the Apple/Motorola product to retail at $299 or $349, and not require activation by any specific wireless carrier at that price. However, Motorola may tie the phone to a specific wireless carrier, dramatically limiting the product’s appeal.

I don’t like candybar-style phones. Will a flip-open version be available? While it’s not totally clear as to whether Motorola’s initial shot of a phone represents what the final shipping product(s) will be like, it’s fair to assume that more than one of these phones will be released. Eventually.

What is the deal with the Motorola E1060? On February 14, 2005, Motorola showed the E1060, a new 3G phone that ran the iTunes client, and was reported by Reuters to be the company’s first iTunes phone, available fourth-quarter 2005. On February 16, 2005, however, Motorola clarified that despite the iTunes client demonstration, the E1060 would not be “our iTunes product,” and suggested that another announcement was forthcoming. For reference, the E1060 includes the following features:

* A 1.3 megapixel camera for still photos or video.
* A VGA camera for 2-way video conferencing.
* Bluetooth wireless technology.
* Audio and video streaming with playback support for MPEG4 (AAC), WMV/WMA and MP3 files.
* 32MB of internal memory, expandable up to 512MB with removable memory.

Instant Expert: Apple/Motorola iTunes Phone 2

iLounge will update this page with additional information on Motorola’s iTunes phone(s) as soon as more information is released.

  1. It’s unlike Apple to retro fit an existing product line. when Motorola first debuted their Push-to-Talk over Cellular they did this on fitted C350s, which were used only to showcase the application, but eventually released the V400p – a dedicated PoC that was designed to do the job. I suspect that this is what Motorola were showing off at the Vegas Consumer Electronics show and not the final product. Apple prides itself in deliver leading edge gadgets and retro fitting the E398 would not be their style. That would be nothing short of suicide for the Apple brand’s debut into cellular.

  2. Why not team with Nokia instead.
    Both companys are industry leaders.
    Both companys are cool and retro.
    Nokia products are becoming even more ipodish with the introduction of the signiture white headphones and the simple easy to use hardware. Anyway, i hope Motorola can suprise me, and forse me into my first motorola phone.

    Will the downloaded songs be able to be imported into my music libary and songs from my libary, be impoted on my phone ??

  3. i think that the mp3 playback and the phone should have 2 diff power sources, because i can see major problems coming from peopel using all the battery on music

  4. i think that the mp3 playback and the phone should have 2 diff power sources, because i can see major problems coming from peopel using all the battery on music

  5. I’m not sure this will be great for me. If it is Sprint compatible, I will beg my parents to get me one. I want one so badly, and I love the iPod interface too.

  6. I recently switched to Motorola after years of Nokia use – their phone got ugly and stupid. I got sucked in. Apple and motorola not compatible. was looking forward to agreat Bluetooth lifestyle interaction between laptop and mobile. Bah -bow!

    But the phone is nice and it is also more solid than my lasty Nokia. Flip preferable to candybar.

    A software fix would be nicer than an iPhone.

  7. I believe Nokia is already in bed with another digital music provider. I don’t remember who but I remember reading it and thinking that its too bad because Apple would have been a better partner.

    Shortly thereafter, Apple announced the Moto relationship.

    .:. tony

  8. [i]It’ll be a miniature flash memory-based iPod inside of a cellular phone[/i]

    You know Samsung (and others?) have already released phones with 5GB storage.

    Too often though, when I think of “convergence” in this context, I am reminded of the awful N-Gage…

  9. They should take it one step further with adding iphoto. I hope they offer this with a SIM card version for the international market.

  10. i get the immpression that we’ll have to pay to put the songs from our library onto the phone,

    how much will it be?

    oh, but candybar is better for me, flip phones use to much battery

  11. Allple an motorola have been togeather for a while as moto makes all of apple’s processors. and yes it is GSM so it will have a SIM card.

  12. Wow, I’m excited. I’m sure the first iteration will just get things rolling. But I imagine in a year the 2G motorola/apple phone will blow people away.

    Imagine this…you’re cruising with your bluetooth enabled phone (its sitting in your backpack/briefcase/handbag), your remote (bluetooth or corded) is clipped to your collar..your headset (bluetooth are corded) is on your head. You’re listening to your favorite tunes (1Gig flash memory, aka Shuffle). when you get an incoming call (you hear the ringing in the background of your music) press a button on your remote and answer the call through your headphones (bluetooth or your highend earphones), the mic is on the remote. And guess what, your phone has a color screen, with scroll buttons, and a removable/rechargeable li/ion battery (two biggest complaints about the Shuffle).

    Right now, if I’m listening to my iPod, I have to carry my cellphone in my hand (set on vibration mode) to tell if I’ve got an incoming call (I use pretty good isolation canalphones). This would solve that problem easily. The only drawback….price. I bet it’ll be expensive. But oh, the price of convenience.

  13. It is not mentioned how this is likely to work. Is this simply iTunes software on your phone, which allows you to play only? Or will their be a iTMS so you can buy songs on the move on your handset? That would be a good thing and a selling point over the existing iPod range, as you can buy on the move without being at your computer.

  14. Great concept. I already have the E398 and I must say it’s one of the best phones out there. If Motorola wants to add iTunes support, however, they seriously need to increase the processing speed of this phone’s OS, because with mp3s playing the E398 has serious lag.

    If I can’t upgrade my phone with the eventual iTunes support, I’ll bash my head for not waiting for the Apple/motorola phone.

  15. Since I started my mobile phone usage when Motorola had the “brick”, I have had experience with several mobile phone manufacturers and Motorola has always made an excellent phone for the business professional. I am hoping that they provide one with the Apple collaboration as I would utilize it for audible books–not for music.

  16. I love my nokia 7610… It’s a great phone. I have not owned a moto because the hardware is weak and inferior. To any1 who knows about phones they will tell you. Moto does not havea reasonably priced phone that has a good feature set or strong hardware. Jus look at their v series… All have only 5 mb shared mem which is insufficient for mp3 use. The E398 is not bad because it has a great mp3 player. I guess it’s the only phone they can really use for music playback. If Apple had teamed up with nokia to make an iTunes phone that would b better. Nokias new phones are all about stlye and functionality. Bluetooth is great and many phones from either company offer it but I do believe that the nokia is better in this category as well.

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