iTunes phone one step closer

Motorola and Apple’s music phone - the Motorola ROKR E1 (a.k.a. the ‘iTunes’ phone) - has been unveiled in the US. Its rollout across the rest of the world will now be staggered, with Middle East stores due to start selling the handset during the fourth quarter of the year.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  September 8, 2005

Motorola and Apple’s music phone - the Motorola ROKR E1 (a.k.a. the ‘iTunes’ phone) - has been unveiled in the US. Its rollout across the rest of the world will now be staggered, with Middle East stores due to start selling the handset during the fourth quarter of the year. The multimedia device was launched by Apple supremo Steve Jobs at an invitation-only event in San Francisco, US earlier this month. “The way we think of the phone, really, is that it is an iPod shuffle right on your phone,” Mr Jobs said. The phone's functions resemble Apple’s iPod Shuffle in two ways: the device doesn’t include a click wheel for menu navigation (as standard iPods do), and it can only play its stored tracks in random order. US and European pundits have thus far returned mixed reviews of the phone. Some think the phone’s price (roughly $370) and the combination of strong Apple and Motorola brands will be hard to beat. Others however appear to either prefer Sony Ericsson’s recently launched W800i Walkman phone (which can store up to 125 tracks compared to the ROKR’s 100, and can play these in any order) or are looking ahead to the forthcoming unveiling of Nokia’s N91. This likely more expensive handset will pack in a whopping 4GB hard drive, capable of storing roughly a thousand tracks. The ROKR E1, which is based upon Motorola’s E398 handset, works by linking up to a user’s PC or Mac. From there tracks can be transferred directly to the handset using a USB cable and Apple’s iTunes jukebox software. In addition to its music player functions, the ROKR also features a VGA digital camera, colour display, two built-in stereo speakers and stereo headphones that also serve as a mobile headset with microphone. Over in the US, Motorola has been quick to explain that the ROKR E1 is just the first in a series of ROKR devices, though no details of these are available at present. Look out for a full review of Sony Ericsson’s just-released W800i Walkman phone on itp.net/reviews shortly.

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