Apple is set to launch a brand new mobile phone that will featuring music, video, email, and Internet functions. It will run on a unique Apple network called Mobile Me.
Apple Computer has requested a set of trademarks for a mobile telephone service featuring music, video, email, and Internet functions, according to applications at the US Patent and Trade Office.
The maker of the iPod music players filed this month to trademark the name ‘Mobile Me,’ for devices and services combining features of the iPod with Motorola’s ROKR telephone and the Blackberry portable communications device.
Appled has asked the patents office to lock in the ‘Mobile Me’ name for handheld devices as well as accompanying mobile telephone service, according to the trademark applications. The telephone service would provide ‘digital music from local or global communications networks’ as well as online databases ‘in the fields of music, concerts, videos, radio, television news’ and more, the applications state.
maker of the iPod portable music player, could be planning to launch its own mobile-phone venture, recent federal trademark filings indicate.
The filings reinforce speculation that Apple would wade deeper into mobile phones in the wake of a partnership with Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola (NYSE: MOT) , the world’s second-largest mobile phone maker.
Motorola’s Rokr phone, introduced last year, was the first to feature Apple’s popular iTunes digital music store. The phone has been criticised for inadequacies, but it has still underscored the growing importance of music to mobile phones.
“I think they will have a device and an MVNO,” said Albert Lin, an analyst with American Technology Research. MVNO is short for “Mobile Virtual Network Operator.” MVNOs don’t own physical networks; instead, they buy wireless time from major networks like Sprint Nextel, and operate under their own brand.
An MVNO would be a good way for Apple to spur downloads of songs from iTunes through a wireless network, Lin said: “They have to find a way to get over-the-air downloading of iTunes.” The first iTunes phone doesn’t have that capability; users can only download songs directly from their personal computers.
By operating its own MVNO, Apple would have more control over distributing and pricing its music services than it would in a traditional relationship with a wireless carrier. “They have to take a more proactive role in developing the [over-the-air] market,” Lin said. Apple’s iPod, known for its style and functionality, has become a consumer electronics icon. The Rokr phone was criticized for lacking the iPod’s style and for holding only 100 songs, about 900 less than the new iPod Nano.
If Apple chooses to make its own phone, it will likely contract out much of the engineering to a firm that specialises in mobile phones, said Ed Snyder, a stock analyst with Charter Equity Research. One Company tipped to pick up the contract are BenQ an OEM manufacturer that recently aquired the Siemens brand. during the recent CES event in Las Vegas a senior BenQ executive did admit that they were talking to Apple about OEM manufacturing. Snyder doesn’t see an Apple phone as a threat to Motorola or other established mobile phone makers. “The mobile phone business is enormously complicated,” he said.
Phones are primarily sold through carriers. Carrier/manufacturer relationships can be tricky. Lin also said he didn’t see an Apple phone venture as a threat to Motorola: “I think Motorola would view it as positive.” Apple might market an MVNO in tandem with a Motorola phone. And Motorola is likely looking for a better outcome from its Apple relationship than it has gotten from the first Rokr phone, Lin said