iPhone: Forget downloading, think sideloading


By now, nearly every feature of Apple’s (AAPL) forthcoming iPhone has been dissected and debated, from its keyboardless touchscreen (registration required) to future plans for third-party software applications. The phone’s music player, based on Apple’s hugely successful iPod, is catching some flak (mostly from competitors) because consumers can’t access the iTunes store from their phones: Instead of buying music over the air, they’ll need to purchase tunes using a computer, then synch the music on their iPhones, also known as sideloading.


But Apple’s sideloading gambit has the support of an unlikely booster: Nokia (NOK) board member Daniel Hesse, who recently told The Browser that, for transferring music and multimedia files to mobile phones, “sideloading will be absolutely crucial.” Hesse, who ran AT&T (T) Wireless Services in the late 1990s, added: “I think no matter how fast the wireless networks get here, the computer is always faster.”


Hesse, who says he sideloads content to his Nokia smart phone, says he likes sideloading content: He can download music purchases faster using his wired broadband connection, and he likes using his computer to manage his playlists. (He’s also got his own reasons for pushing consumers to use the wired Internet: He’s now CEO of Embarq (EQ), a Sprint (S) spinoff that provides local phone and broadband services in a variety of markets, including Las Vegas and several cities in Florida.)


Consumers in markets where mobile music is prevalent also seem to prefer sideloading to over-the-air downloads by a “wide margin,” according to research from M:Metrics.


Of course, Hesse is hardly endorsing the iPhone. “I think it will be big in the U.S., but not anywhere else,” he opines. “In Europe and Asia there are all those phenomenal phones out there that make the iPhone look pedestrian.”


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