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Thursday, September 01, 2005, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Motorola and Apple strike deal with UK wireless carrier

Motorola and Apple have struck a deal with UK wireless operator O2 to market and provide service for Motorola's forthcoming iTunes ROKR music phones, according to UK's The Times Online.

The three companies are expected to announce the agreement overseas a few weeks after Motorola and Apple unveil their partnership with Cingular wireless in the United States.

A spokesman for O2 declined to comment on the company’s relationship with Apple, saying only: “Music plays an important part of our overall portfolio.” However, further confirmation of the partnership could come as soon as today, the online report says.

Pricing of the new music phones in the UK remains a bit of a mystery, but The Times says O2 will have a period of exclusivity to offer the phones to its customers.

Apple, along with Motorola and Cingular, will announce US versions of the iTunes music phones and service in San Francisco on September 7th. An after party hosted by Motorola in New York City will follow shortly thereafter.

Motorola is expected to hype the phones — which may only hold up to 25 songs at a time without a paid upgrade from Apple — through a new television ad campaign that features music stars such as Madonna, Little Richard and the likenesses of the late Jimi Hendrix and Biggie Smalls.

Reports had previously indicated that the UK iTunes phone launch would trail a US introduction by a short period of time.