Motorola is making good on its plans with Apple on a phone that plays music using iTunes software.
Sources who have seen Motorola Inc.s upcoming E790 iTunes phone say that it sounds like an iPod Shuffle and looks like a shiny white version of Motorolas E398 phone.
Like the E398, the E790 has stereo speakers and a port for a mini headset.
"Everything is in the same place," said one source who has used the E790. The only difference is that the E398 has a single menu button, and (the E790) has an additional button that is dedicated to iTunes, the source said.
Unlike an iPod, the number of tracks that the phone can play is based on a deliberate firmware limitation, rather than being based on the available memory in the device, that source said.
(He did not divulge the number of tracks the phone could hold, but said it was fewer than an iPod Shuffle; the Shuffle holds from 120 to 240 songs, depending on the model.)
Motorola and Apple announced in July 2004 that the companies were teaming up on an iTunes mobile music player, which Motorola would make the standard music application on all its mass-market music phones.
In January, Motorola demonstrated a phone playing iTunes music at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
At that time, officials clarified that the demo phone was actually an E398 equipped with iTunes functionality, and not the actual iTunes phone slated for release this year.
To read about Motorola previewing the iTunes phone back in January,
When Motorola and Apple first announced their plays, they said such a phone was expected in the first half of 2005, but it has yet to hit the market.
Over the past month or so, though, rumors of the phone have been flying hard.
According to some published reports, Cingular Wireless will be the first American carrier to offer the device. Officials at Cingular declined to comment on unreleased products, as did officials at Apple and Motorola.
However, Apple has confirmed that the company is hosting a "special event" in San Francisco on September 7.
"Overall, this is a very highly anticipated product," said Hugues DeLaVergne, a principal analyst at Gartner Inc., a technology consultancy in Dallas.
"Because of the strength of their brands over the years, this should be a very successful product."
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