Motorola Focuses On Music, Imaging

By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 30 2006 - 8:00am




Music and digital imaging were on Motorola's mind at International CES, where the company unveiled its second music-focused phone, launched its iRadio service for cellphones, demonstrated new music-oriented Bluetooth accessories and launched new digital imaging initiatives.

In music related initiatives, Motorola launched its latest music phone, the ROKR E2. The phone, due in the first half, differs in major respects from its predecessor, the ROKR E1. The differences include dedicated front and side music-function keys, removable memory for more storage, the stereo version of Bluetooth, USB 2.0 for fast transfers from a PC and a standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack.

For music listening, the ROKR E2 eliminates headphone wires when used with Bluetooth stereo headphones or with the new O ROKR sunglasses, which are equipped with a stereo version of Bluetooth. The Oakley-designed sunglasses are due in the first half at an unannounced price.

The company said the phone supports "several music formats" but didn't mention Apple's FairPlay-protected AAC format, which is used in ROKR 1.

ROKR 2 also features a 1.3-megapixel camera, FM radio and SCREEN3 technology which streams pushed headlines across the screen. Its SD Card slot accepts memory cards up to 2GB.

In another music initiative, the company turned on its Web-based iRadio service, which later in the first half will enable cellular subscribers to directly transfer music from the service's 435 commercial-free radio stations to select Motorola cellphones connected by USB. Subscribers will be able to listen to the cellphone-stored music via wired or Bluetooth-equipped headsets, but they will also be able to play the music through a Bluetooth-equipped car stereo system. To emulate traditional radio service, the service prevents music from being replayed once it is played.

Currently, consumers can listen to the service only through their PC, but Motorola expects carriers to offer the transfer service in the first half to subscribers, who will be able to download an iRadio application over the air to their phone as a Java, BREW or other type of application.

The iRadio service is expected to cost from $5.99 to $6.99 per month, and revenue will be shared between Motorola and cellular carriers. Also for music lovers, Motorola is bundling a Bluetooth stereo headset with a Bluetooth adapter for MP3 portables. It's due in the first-half at an unannounced price. Another Bluetooth headset, the company's smallest, fits in one ear like a hearing aid and incorporates a microphone that picks up the user's voice through the ear canal. It's the 0.26-ounce H5 Miniblue.

In imaging initiatives, the company announced a free Motorola Share service, which lets consumers use their cellphone's Web browser to remotely access and display images stored on their broadband-connected home PC. The PC must be loaded with Motorola Share software, which also lets users select photos to share with friends through an e-mail notification with password-protected access. The service is available.

In another imaging initiative, Motorola and Kodak announced a 10-year product, cross-licensing, joint-product-development, and marketing alliance to improve the design and user-friendliness of camera phones. The alliance plans to make it easy for Motorola users to send their camera phone-stored photos to Kodak home printers, retail kiosks and Kodak's EasyShare online photo sharing site. Kodak also expects to supply Motorola with its CMOS sensors. In 2006, the first Motorola phones will be available with integrated software to access the Easyshare service.

In a separate initiative, Motorola will integrate Google's icon onto select mass-market devices to connect quickly to Google's search service. The phones will be available to consumers in the first quarter.

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