Motorola Inc., the world’s No. 2 cell-phone maker, on Tuesday (Jan. 3) revealed details of its plans for iRadio, a subscription music service that will go on sale this year. It also unveiled a new home phone that consumers could link with cell-phone and Web phone services.
The new offers come as mobile network operators are developing services such as mobile music downloads and seeking to improve wireless coverage at home by adding short-range home network links to cellular phones.
The iRadio service, in some respects, puts Motorola in competition with XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., which sell radio subscriptions for car and home radios. Sirius also sends music to Sprint Nextel phones.
Motorola’s iRadio service will first run on the Rokr E2 cell phone, which, unlike the first Rokr phone, will not include Apple Computer Inc.’s popular iTunes music software. Motorola aims to sell the service and phone via mobile operators.
Motorola said in October its first cell phone for iRadio would be able to hold about 70 hours of music.
The iRadio service, will include 435 commercial-free radio channels, including genres such as Heavy Metal, Rockin’ Cowboys and Angry Women. Its satellite rivals also provide specialized music channels, often without ads.
iRadio will let users download channels on the computer and transfer them to play on their phones or on car or home stereos, like satellite radio.
The iRadio service will cost about $7 a month but the price may vary depending on which wireless phone service the subscriber uses, according to Motorola.
U.S. service providers including Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless are planning mobile music download services for this year. Sprint Nextel has already launched music download and streaming services.
Motorola did not reveal any service provider partnerships but said it hopes to sell the service in conjunction with wireless operators, which could sell subscribers a wireless download of a song that they discovered through iRadio.
Along with the channels provided users could also use iRadio to put their own music collections on their phone.
The cell phone maker, which plans to demonstrate iRadio at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, also introduced a new cordless home phone.
Its C51 cordless home phone can be used for regular home phone services or with wireless phone dock that lets consumers use it as their cell phone to improve call quality at home and take advantage of weekend or night free cellular call plans.
The C51, which will go on sale in the spring, can also be linked to an adapter for use with Internet phone services, which tend to be cheaper than traditional services, Motorola said.
It also unveiled home network device, the Residential Seamless Mobility Gateway, that uses a short range network technology known as Wi-Fi to improve service for users with weak cell phone coverage inside the house.