is in harmony with
on the heavily anticipated music phone.
The No. 1 wireless provider, a joint venture of
, will unveil the iPod-inspired Rokr phone on Sept. 7 in San Francisco, says Ovum analyst Roger Entner.
Thanks to a number of
early cancellations and a few
false starts, a remarkable level of anticipation has built for the Rokr. The device is considered to be the forerunner to a whole new generation of phones to offer portable music libraries.
"I think this will be very significant development. You have a high-end music player coming to the wireless world. It's a natural fit," says Entner.
Phone companies like Cingular and
-- jointly owned by
-- had grumbled over how the music trend
threatened to bypass their newly upgraded wireless toll roads. Telcos fear a repeat of the
camera phone scenario, where users embraced photo swapping but big carriers saw very little of the related revenue.
But industry insiders say the telcos see some opportunity in impulse purchases of wireless music downloads, when users hear a song and immediately want to buy it.
The Rokr isn't the first music phone to hit the states. Other models, from Motorola as well as outfits like
, play MP3 files and other digital formats. But Rokr's edge in this game, if there is one, is that Motorola licenses the popular iTunes software from Apple.
To keep the phone prices down, the Rokr is expected to have a 512-megabit flash memory, which means the phone will hold about 120 songs. Observers note that this will compete with Apple's iPod shuffle, but not with the bigger hard-drive iPods that hold 1,000 songs or more.
The Rokr will allow users to load their music from PCs, diminishing the likelihood that cell-phone subscribers will spend a lot of money downloading songs directly over the wireless network.
And battery life will be a big issue, say industry watchers, but there are no details yet on how long the phones will be able to go between charges. "You're obviously going to be taking away juice to listen to Usher and Green Day, or even Beethoven for that matter, and that's coming right out of your phone power," says Entner.
Nonetheless, Motorola fans will be interested to see if Rokr can help the company keep up the
momentum started by the popular Razr. The thin, metal Razr phone has inspired similar models from rivals like Samsung and LG that are due out in the coming months.