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QuickTime won't make quick time to cell phones

Apple's Frank Cassanova will talk about QuickTime's stealth infiltration of cell phone networks, but not about a rumored wireless iPod.

SAN FRANCISCO--The question was surely on the minds of many as a top Apple executive spoke Tuesday at a major cell phone trade show: When will Apple adapt its QuickTime media player for cell phones, driving a wave of mobile music download stores?

The indirect answers Apple Senior Director Frank Cassanova gave, during a keynote address and one-on-one, seemed to indicate QuickTime-embedded cell phones won't appear in the near future.

While Apple competitors Microsoft and Real prefer to attack the burgeoning market for cell phone entertainment by having handset makers embed their media players directly into phones, Apple doesn't see the need, Cassanova said. Major cell phone carriers Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and Japan's NTT DoCoMo and KDDI already use QuickTime on their servers that manage media for photo e-mailing and other new services.

In a way, Apple's found its way into the core of cell phone carriers without having to build a single handset, primarily by selling servers to manage media on a cell phone operator's network, Cassanova told his audience at the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2004 show.

"The servers don't get as much fanfare" as Apple's iPod, Cassanova said. Yet, 25 operators are in trials with the equipment, and Apple's in discussions with about 25 more.

"We don't have to play anywhere on the phone" because QuickTime is at the core of many carriers' media-oriented services, he adds. "We do play a lot on the computers on either end, though."

Yeah, but Frank, what about the widely rumored iPod with wireless connectivity?

"It's policy: I can't answer that question," Cassanova said. Such a device could spawn a huge rush by cell phone operators to launch iTunes stores over wireless networks. Cassanova also refused to comment on the status of the Motorola-Apple deal struck in July. At that time, Apple said it and Motorola were partnering to ensure that songs purchased under Apple's iTunes music store can be transferred from their Mac or PC to a cell phone, using a Bluetooth wireless connection. As part of the announcement, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said "the mobile phone market is a phenomenal opportunity to get iTunes in the hands of even more music lovers."