Motorola Fires Up iRadio

Number two phone maker Motorola has revealed details of its forthcoming iRadio service, which will put the company into direct competition with satellite radio operators like XM Satellite Radio and Sirius by offering more than 400 ad-free radio channels which can be downloaded, stored, and played back on phones, computers, and even car stereos.

Although the company has not yet announced any network partners, Motorola intends to offer iRadio service to mobile network operators, aiming at a monthly subscriber fee in the $7/month range, depending on options and service bundles. iRadio will first be available for users of Motorola’s forthcoming ROKR E2 mobile phone, which will store about 70 hours of music but will not feature Apple’s iTunes software. According to Motorola, the service will launch with 435 commercial-free stations covering a wide range of music genres and sub-categories.

Like satellite radio, iRadio will enable users to download channels to their computer and transfer the programming to their phones or for use on car and home stereos. Motorola’s iRadio is not itself a music store: Motorola hopes to set up deals with mobile operators to enable customers to easily purchase downloads of material they discover via iRadio. Mobile operators Cingular and Verizon Wireless are planning music download services for mobile phones for 2006, Sprint is already operating its own Sprint Music Store for mobile users.