By BRUCE MEYERSON AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- It's been the great "Whodunit?" of two big technology
shows: Who put the gag in Motorola Corp.'s mouth just as it was going
to unveil a new cell phone featuring the iTunes music download service
from Apple Computer Inc.?
Motorola initially said it acted alone, then quickly pointed to Apple,
citing the computer company's long practice of never unveiling new
products until they're actually available to buy.
Many industry players, however, suspect that a wireless service
provider intervened, essentially telling Motorola that, `I'll be
darned if I'll sell your phones to my customers if it means they can
buy songs through Apple and Motorola without giving me a piece of the
Or, some surmise, perhaps a wireless carrier who planned to offer the
iTunes phone balked at the last minute?
This mystery, which played prominently this month at both the CeBit
show in Germany where the phone was to be unveiled and then the CTIA
Wireless show in New Orleans, drives right to the heart of an uneasy
dynamic simmering in the cellular industry.
The rush is on to deliver music and video to mobile phones, with
wireless providers and device makers jockeying for position to grab
their share of the payday, all parties mindful of the surprising
billions being spent on musical ringtones.
At the same time, the media companies who produce the entertainment,
which also includes video games, are approaching cautiously,
determined to avert any Napster-like, file-sharing bonanza among cell
In fact, Motorola also plays a role in a second drama involving these
choppy uncharted waters.
Earlier this year, a class-action lawsuit was filed in three states
involving a Motorola phone sold by Verizon Wireless. The v710 handset
was equipped with a short-range wireless technology called Bluetooth
and was configured to work with cordless headsets. Only one problem:
Its file-transfer capabilities had been disabled.
The suit insinuates that Verizon Wireless is obliging subscribers to
use its cell network if they wish, for example, to send a photo taken
on a camera phone to a computer or another cell phone.