Motorola Makes Music With Microsoft

Handset heavy Motorola and software giant Microsoft will team to integrate Windows Media technology into Motorola music handsets, the companies announced at the 3GSM World Congress 2006 in Barcelona, Spain this week.

A number of new Motorola “music handsets” will add support for Windows Digital Media Rights Management (DRM) and Windows Media Audio (WMA) and will give users flexibility and options when purchasing and playing digital music.

After its disappointing experience with the Rokr handset that incorporated Apple iTunes capability, Motorola is hoping Windows may provide the way to a successful, mobile music phone. The link to desktop PCs may help this time, DataComm Research President Ira Brodsky told TechNewsWorld.

“It would be a natural if they could use their handset and use the desktop as a base for really milking that handheld for information,” Brodsky said.

Seamless Access

The handsets, expected in the second half of this year, would connect to Windows PCs via USB 2.0, and with support for Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), Windows Media Player would automatically recognize the Motorola handsets, the companies said.

After synching with a PC, users will be able to access songs from a number of online music stores and transfer them for playback on the Motorola handsets.

“Our relationship with Microsoft is about making the mobile world seamless with the desktop world and allowing consumers to experience music wherever and whenever they want,” said Motorola Vice President of Marketing Richard Chin.

Hedging Bets

Motorola does seem to be spreading out its efforts to produce a successful music phone, Brodsky said, adding that Microsoft is more than likely to be part of the mobile media movement.

“It does sound like they’re trying to cover a lot of ground,” he said. “They will pick several directions, because the risk of picking one and it not turning out is too high.”

Motorola also does not want to play favorites, and likely got a good deal on its collaboration with Microsoft, Yankee Group senior analyst Mike Goodman told TechNewsWorld.

“This comes under the heading, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” Goodman said. “Just because the Rokr failed doesn’t mean they should abandon the music phone.”

Mutual Benefit

Goodman added the deal is key for Microsoft as it looks to compete indirectly with Apple through its codecs, DRM, media player and other software.

The collaboration with Motorola is also a big win for Microsoft because it gives the software company a hardware partner to compete with iTunes, Jupiter Research Vice President Michael Gartenberg told TechNewsWorld.

For Motorola, the deal gives the handset maker more leverage in its dealings with Apple, Gartenberg added, indicating the collaboration may also impact other integration and mobile media standards.

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