Verizon Wireless Challenges iPod With ‘Chocolate’ Phone
By CIO Staff
Verizon Wireless announced that it will release the “Chocolate” phone—a music player handset with similar features to those of Apple Computer’s uber-popular iPod—in the wireless carrier’s latest effort to draw consumers away from traditional digital music players and toward using phones as music devices, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Verizon Wireless also announced that it will do away with the $15 subscription fee for its “V-Cast” digital media download service, in an attempt to draw more users to its service and away from the iTunes Music Store, according to the Journal.
Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief finance executive, told the media that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is keeping a close eye on wireless carriers and their respective music players and download services, the Journal reports.
The Chocolate Phone
“We do not think that the phones that are available today make the best music players,” Oppenheimer said, according to the Journal. “We think the iPod is. But over time, that is likely to change, and we are not sitting around doing nothing.”
The United States’ various leading wireless providers already offer music- and ring tone-download services that let customers download content to their handsets or to their personal computers, according to the Journal. Verizon Wireless’ design of the Chocolate phone suggests that carriers are beginning to take the next step into the digital music player and download space, by designing their products to function equally as phones and music players.
The Chocolate Phone 
The Chocolate phone will be manufactured by LG Electronics of Korea and will be available to Verizon Wireless customers with a one-year contract on Aug. 7 for $249, the Journal reports.
Among the additional carriers to offer music-specific phones are Cingular Wireless, which last autumn released a Sony Ericsson “Walkman” phone and which plans to launch two more offerings from the product line before 2007, and Sprint Nextel, which currently offers a “Fusic” phone, also from LG, according to the Journal.
Verizon Wireless customers already have access to upward of 1.3 million songs for download, the Journal reports.
The Chocolate phone cannot hold nearly as many songs as a 30GB or 60GB iPod, but an external storage drive that can link to it allows users to store 1,000 songs, and the drive will come as part of $100 music combo offering that also includes headphones and a wire to link a PC to the phone, according to the Journal.
Currently, Verizon customers pay 99 cents per song download, the same price that Apple charges for a song, and they must place their orders via their PCs, the Journal reports. Users of the Chocolate phone will be able to pay $1.99 to download songs directly to their handsets, according to the Journal.