Microsoft has struck up an alliance with France Telecom’s Orange according to a report in The Business. It will release a version of its SPV C550 smartphone featuring Windows Media Player 10 this month.
Any device which boasts version 10 of the Media Player will be able to play back tracks protected by Microsoft’s DRM software. This includes smartphones which are running Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 Smartphone Edition, Second Edition.
Although Microsoft only lists one device from Audiovox (the SMT 5600) and Cingular as the only handset supporting Media Player 10, there is at least one other. Step forward the X-Phone IIm which British operator, O2, is apparently already selling in Hong Kong. The IIm is, of course, an absolute dead-ringer for the SPV C550. Our German readers will probably find that T-Mobile already has or is planning to release an identical model under the MDA brand.
Where can British consumers buy Windows protected tracks from? Well, one answer is HMV which has its own Digital Jukebox service. So The Business predicts that suitable SPV C550s will go on sale in HMV stores.
Another possibility is Virgin, whose Virgin Digital online service also supports Windows DRM. No sign of a compatible handset from Virgin Mobile yet.
Naturally all this noise is designed to deflect attention from the fact that Apple and Motorola are on the verge of launching the Rockr, iTunes handset.
Interestingly the Mac fraternity got very upset about comments made by the Vole’s Jason Longridge to The Business which appear to suggest that only some 10 million iPods have been sold. The reality is that around 23-25 million is a more accurate figure.
Anyway it remains to be seen if The Vole really can turn back the progress of Apple’s offering which is officially AAC + formatted with its Fairplay DRM (giving .m4p files).