Verizon Wireless has announced a digital music player called "Chocolate" that uses a cell phone made by LG Electronics to play songs downloaded over Verizon's wireless network.
With its circular scroll pad the device looks like Apple Computer's iPod MP player adding another player to an increasingly crowded market. Microsoft announced July it would soon release a digital music player called "Zune."
Verizon's Chocolate will probably differ from both products in that it uses wireless links both to download and to play music supporting a Bluetoothenabled headset. The device also doubles as a cell phone with G features like games music videos television clips global positioning system (GPS) navigation and a camera.
The device has comparable storage to Apple's GB Shuffle or GB Nano iPod designs. With its expandable memory port the Chocolate could store up to songs on a GB microSD memory card such as those made by SanDisk.
"While this may not be the first product of its kind the idea of blending a phone and a music player makes sense. It looks sort of like a thick iPod with a phone stores songs and has a cool name: Chocolate. This product should be hottest among young adults" said Jeff Kagan a telecommunications industry analyst.
Consumer electronics makers have been talking about convergence for years as they launch products that combine the features of personal digital assistants mobile phones video game players and cameras. Since many users carry several of those devices at once Verizon's Chocolate could be popular merely by reducing their load.
"We carry too many devices and if a manufacturer can do a good job of blending multiple devices into one it should be popular" Kagan said.
New Listeners Welcome
LG launched the Chocolate cell phone in South Korea in May and has since sold million units worldwide. It has partnered with Verizon to enter the competitive American market.
Although Apple owns percent of the market for digital audio players with its iPod customers still have many options said Tim Bajarin principal analyst at Creative Strategies.
Instead of trying to convert iPod devotees Verizon will compete for customers by focusing on people who don't yet have a portable digital music player said John Harrobin vice president of digital media for Verizon Wireless during a conference call with reporters.
"Radio is heavily programmed and can be formulaic. But this mobile platform is an excellent device for music discovery" he said. That makes it a good match for Verizona??s V CAST music catalog where the majority of sales are single songs not albums Harrobin said.
Verizon will sell the Chocolate phone for $. with a twoyear subscription and after a $ rebate. Customers may also want to buy a $ package of the GB SanDisk card PC cable software and headphones. The phone became available online Monday and will reach stores on Aug. .
V CAST songs cost cents if purchased from a PC or $. if purchased and downloaded over the air.