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iPod chip maker plans Wi-Fi, Bluetooth support

PortalPlayer goes wireless

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The availability of wireless iPods came a step closer today after PortalPlayer, the chip maker behind the Apple music player's audio logic, will add Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support to its products, Reg Hardware has learned. The move comes courtesy of a tie-in with UK-based Bluetooth chip design pioneer CSR, aka Cambridge Silicon Radio.

PortalPlayer said it will integrate its PP5022 audio chip family with CSR's UniFi Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controller. It will demonstrate a reference platform based on the combined technology next week at the 3GSM show in Barcelona.

The company's pitch is that the integration will allow PortalPlayer-based gadgets to use Bluetooth stereo headsets and reach out to computers' music archives via the wireless networking technology, and to connect directly to music download services through Wi-Fi hotspots.

Interestingly, Apple is believed to be hosting a music-related event later this month in the week after 3GSM takes place. The image on the invite is an Airport Express Wi-Fi adaptor's power light, suggesting the announcement will centre on wireless music distribution. It might be premature to anticipate Apple will unveil a wireless iPod at the gig - PortalPlayer and CSR said their combined product wouldn't be available until the second half of the year - but it would at very least appear to be putting in place the infrastructure for one.

While Motorola's ROKR iTunes-equipped phone may not have set the cellular world alight, is has provided Apple with the ideal opportunity to field-trial the ITMS-access software a mobile iPod might contain. ®

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