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Monday, February 13, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Motorola to make both Windows Media and iTunes phones

Motorola said on Monday it had signed a deal to use Microsoft's Windows Media technology in a new line of music phones that would sell alongside its iTunes phones, Reuters is reporting.

The world's second largest mobile phone maker will launch between one and three Windows Media phones in the second half of 2006, said Chris White, the company's senior director of global product marketing for music handsets.

Motorola, which has so far launched two iTunes music phones, will keep Windows Media phones as separate products, he said.

"The iTunes phones will remain a separate line of products," White said at 3GSM, the world's biggest mobile phone trade fair.

According to Motorola, the new Windows Media phones have been requested by many operators which want to open their own music stores and sell customers music tracks. By contrast, Motorola's iTunes phones rely on Apple's closed iTunes ecosystem, which is incompatible with third-party music download services.

The fate of Motorola's iTunes phones were recently brought into question when a report surfaced that Motorola had decided not to include iTunes software on its forthcoming ROKR E2 handset and instead would use the phone to promote its own proprietary subscription-based music service.

Motorola's ROKR E1, the first iTunes phone, was released last September and proved to be a mediocre success due to limited storage capacity and bulky design.

The phone is also not popular among wireless operators because they cannot sell and transfer songs directly to the phone due to the closed iTunes system.

Last month, Motorola introduced the second of its hand sets to feature iTunes, a fashionably slim quad band phoned dubbed SLVR L7. Sales data for this model is not yet available.