Apple patent covers wireless iTunes distribution

2004 application, published this week, covers buying or reserving a song on an online store with a mobile device.

A patent application filed by Apple Computer in December 2004 appears to cover a method of buying a song, ring tone or music video from an online store over a wireless network.

The application, spotted by Macsimum News, was published Thursday on the Web site of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It describes an invention that allows cell phone or wireless handheld users to interact with an online music store--such as iTunes--and mark a song or video file that can be downloaded to a computer at a later time.

Apple representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.

The invention appears to be a way for Apple to capture revenue from music fans with short attention spans. For example, cell phone users on the go who hear a song might want to purchase that tune right away, but by the time they get back to their PC, they've forgotten the name of the song or the artist.

According to the application, the invention would allow cell phone or wireless-PDA users to essentially bookmark a song or video on an online music store. Then, they return to their PC, they could download it over a fast network. If bandwidth permits, they might be able to download the song or file directly to their phone.

Verizon's V Cast service already allows customers to download songs to their phones. Verizon was one of the first carriers in the United States to deploy a fast network based on EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) technology. Other carriers are deploying their own fast networks based on EV-DO and a competing standard called HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access).

Apple has dipped its toes into the mobile-phone market through its partnership with Motorola on phones like the Rokr and . Those phones use the iTunes interface, but users have to put songs on the phone by connecting them to a Mac or PC.

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