As expected, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unleashed the Motorola ROKR, the first cell phone compatible with iTunes, at a media briefing this morning. Jobs likened the flashy new phone as “really an iPod shuffle on your phone. Both devices can shuffle, both can autofill, neither has a click wheel — but the phone has a display.” Just like the shuffle, the ROKR will download its songs via a USB cable connected to your Mac or Windows PC. For now, U.S. mobile phone users will have to sign up to a Cingular Wireless account to get one of these puppies. One hopes other providers will eventually see the wisdom of offering the same phone. But the really cool development was the introduction of the iPod mini’s replacement, the iPod nano, which uses Flash memory rather than a tiny hard drive. The diminutive music player is described as thinner than a number two pencil and weighs a mere 1.5 ounces. A 2GB version retails for $199, and the 4GB version will be sold for $249. Jobs also unveiled iTunes 5, which sports some interface refinements, the ability to divide playlists into folders and enhanced searching capabilities. A Smart Shuffle program, said to be more intelligent in selecting tunes, has been added, plus Parental Controls to stop your kids from buying songs with explicit lyrics. In other news, Jobs revealed that the iTunes Music Store over 80% of the legitimate download market in the U.S. So much for the competition from Napster, Real and Yahoo And, if you care, you can now download any of the songs you want from Madonna’s 15 albums. I just want to know when Apple will settle its remaining legal differences with the surviving members of The Beatles and get their catalog online. In any case, don’t forget to tune in to this Thursday’s episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE, where editors Christopher Breen and Dan Frakes will separate the facts from the hype in Apple’s new product announcements.
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