SAN FRANCISCO - A long-delayed cell phone from Apple Computer Inc. and Motorola Inc. that can play iTunes music downloads is finally set to debut through Cingular Wireless, a research analyst said.
The new phone will be equipped with software that would allow it to play songs purchased at Apple's iTunes Web site, according to Roger Entner, an analyst for research firm Ovum who said he learned of the plans from an industry executive.
Representatives from Apple, Cingular and Motorola declined to comment, but the three companies are expected to roll out the device at an event here next week. Apple announced Monday that it would host a news conference Sept. 7.
It was unclear whether the new phone will allow users to download music directly over a cellular Internet connection or if they would have to download songs to a computer and then transfer them to the handset.
Just about every major cell phone maker has been working to launch a music phone that could compete with the iPod, Apple's popular digital music player.
Motorola originally planned to unveil the iTunes phone at a trade show back in February but the debut was scrubbed at the last minute with no explanation. Some observers speculated that the event was blocked by Apple's famously secretive management. Others postulated that one or more wireless operators objected to the possibility that such a device would undercut their efforts to sell music to cell users.
Analysts have predicted that music-playing phones could threaten iPod's grip on the market for digital music players.
Although battery life is a major impediment, tech companies have long vied to create an all-in-one product that would encompass all the utility of cell phones, handheld computers, music players, cameras and videogame machines.
The move into cell phones is seen by industry experts as a way for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple to hedge its bets.
"It's a win for all three companies," Entner said. "Apple gets into the wireless space, Motorola associates itself with a wow brand and Cingular aligns itself with an iconic music-device company."