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Sony Ericsson preps Walkman phone

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Sony Ericsson is to target Motorola's upcoming iTunes-compatible mobile phone and other handsets developed to cash in on the digital music phenomenon by leveraging Sony's Walkman brand.

The handset, due to be formally launched next month, will sport sufficient storage for six to ten CDs' worth of songs encoded in MP3 or AAC format, company president Miles Flint said yesterday.

"We intend to bring to market a complete consumer music option," he said.

Tracks will be copy-protected using the Open Mobile Alliance's DRM 2.0 specification.

Interestingly, Sony's digital music service, Connect, will offer songs to owners of the new handset. Connect currently supports only the company's own ATRAC format, developed for MiniDisc. Flint did not suggest the new handset would support ATRAC, so it seems likely that Connect will support alternative formats - something it may well be doing anyway to support the PlayStation Portable.

AAC is the most likely candidate since, unlike MP3, it was designed from the start to support DRM. Tellingly, AAC support will also allow iTunes users who have ripped CDs into that format to copy their songs to the handset more easily.

Separately, Motorola was reported yesterday to have announced its iTunes-compatible handset. However, the subject of the announcement, the E1060, isn't due to ship until Q4, and Motorola and Apple have already said their joint effort will appear during the first half of the year. Motorola's own E1060 product page makes no mention of iTunes support. ®

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