Microsoft, Motorola in Music Pact

Microsoft’s Windows Media technologies will soon be integrated into a
number of Motorola’s mobile phone/music handsets, allowing users to transfer
downloaded music from their PCs (via a USB cable) to their phones.

Motorola and Microsoft announced the collaboration at 3GSM, an annual meet-and-greet for those who conjure up new ways
for people to communicate and entertain themselves while on the move.

Convergence — companies coming together to meld their technologies — and
mobile entertainment offerings are one of the primary focuses at this year’s
show, where the powers-that-be have evidently decided that digital music
and podcasts should break free from PCs and MP3 players.

The real-world jury is still out on whether consumers crave
yet another personal soundtrack system, but tech companies and mobile phone
manufactures seem convinced that people want noisy phones.

“A lot of our customers have been asking for better integration of our
phones with Windows,” said Chris White, senior director of global
product marketing for Motorola. “There’s a new world out there that we’re
seeing grow — the subscription-based model for music. In mobile space, we’re
excited about what that means. Sharing music through instant messaging,
Wi-Fi connection, etc.”

The new Motorola handsets will ship with preloaded versions of Windows
Media Digital Rights Management (DRM).

In theory, Windows Media Player will
automatically recognize a Motorola handset when it’s connected to a PC and,
according to a statement, “music acquired from any pay-per-download or
subscription store using Windows Media technology will transfer and playback
on Motorola handsets.”

But there’s no word as yet on whether music plucked from file-sharing services will
also play on the handsets. It seems logical that any tune
that plays in Windows Media Player will also work on the new phones. Though some songs that play on a PC simply won’t play on a portable
device that supports Windows Media DRM.

Apart from DRM protection, the Motorola handsets will also include
Windows Media Audio (WMA), the enhanced Windows Media Audio Pro codec and
Media Transfer Protocol (MTP).

Spokespeople from both companies said this
software will allow users to access content from a wide range of online
music stores. Support for music downloads on-the-go (also known as
“over-the-air” downloads) is expected to debut in 2007.

Motorola also announced it will be partnering with Web portal company
Yahoo to bring Yahoo’s Podcasts to
mobile phones.

Using the Motorola/Yahoo application users will be able to
drag and drop podcasts directly from a PC straight onto their mobile phone,
or can directly download podcasts to their handset using an integrated
application on the phone.

The company demonstrated this offering on a Motorola RAZR V3x handset.

In other news from GSM, Japan’s NTT DoCoMo is demonstrating “super 3G”
mobile phones that can download data at 3.6Mbps, nearly 10 times faster than
the transfer speeds possible with current 3G phones.

Other expected
announcements include dual-mode mobiles that can work
in both wireless and landline mode, as well as handsets that are capable of
receiving and displaying broadcast TV signals.

Some 50,000 attendees are expected at this year’s conference, which
outgrew its former home in Cannes, France and is being held this year in
Barcelona.

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