RealTime IT News

Cingular Takes Another Stab at iTunes Phone

After Cingular's first attempt to offer an iTunes-branded cell phone landed on deaf ears, can the wireless carrier's new SLVR handset strike the right chord with subscribers?

Hoping to ride the popularity of its ultra-thin RAZR, Motorola has concentrated on the design, making it part of its "self-expression" portfolio where design is all-important.

"The SLVR is a design-centric mobile phone first and foremost," Monica Rohleder, a Motorola spokesperson, told internetnews.com. "Music capability within the device is an added bonus."

Motorola SLVR
The iTunes-enabled SLVR.
Source: Motorola

The new phone, offered through an exclusive agreement with Cingular for $199.99 with a two-year contract, seems to include the ROKR's same problematic limitations wrapped in a new shell.

Although the phone includes a 512MB MicroSD card, Cingular limits subscribers to 100 songs. Despite Sprint-Nextel and Verizon offering wirelessly downloadable music, the SLVR requires a USB cable.

"SLVR, as a 'sexier' looking device, will do better for Motorola than the ROKR," said Phil Taylor, Strategy Analytics analyst.

Last year's Motorola's iTunes-branded ROKR cell phone was supposed to have been the nexus of Apple's popular iTunes interface and the move of digital music to cell phones.

However, critics pointed to its limited storage and the requirement that music be downloaded via a USB cable, rather than wirelessly.

Despite the new design, Taylor said the SLVR's overall impact on iTunes sales will be "negligible."

Apple's experience with the iTunes phones could dampen the computer maker's enthusiasm for jumping into marketing a cell phone, according to Taylor.

"Apple will continue to build resources towards bringing a wireless- enabled product to market in 24 to 36 months," he said.

And according to Bill Hughes, an In-Stat analyst, styling isn't a high priority.

"A lot of effort and enthusiasm has been put into marketing," Hughes said, "but it doesn't mean the market will follow."