Motorola has indefinitely postponed the planned launch of its iTunes phone following a last-minute message from a wireless carrier or carriers late last night.

Motorola spokeswoman Monica Rohleder told the Chicago Tribune that the company decided not to unveil product after discussions late Wednesday night with "our operators".

According to a report in The Times, Motorola admitted that the launch had been cancelled because of "uncertainty" over which operators would sign up to it. Motorola hottly denied the accuracy of this report, telling Macworld: "We have no change in our plans around this upcoming product. We're in discussions with a number of carriers on the first itunes phone, and we'll announce it when it's ready to go."

Analysts speculate that there had been a lack of interest from Vodafone, the biggest operator.

"We are in talks with operators but until we have more detail we are holding off the launch," the company said.

Motorola previewed the iTunes phone to the media earlier this week, the company had said it intended to officially launch it today (Thursday).

Rohleder explained: "Motorola discussed the logistics of this product with our carriers across the globe and we decided to wait to announce it when everybody is in sync with it." Motorola insisted that the launch would proceed later.

On hold

Regarding the delay, Yankee Group analyst John Jackson said: "I don't think this is the case of a product not being ready to come to market."

What the delay does demonstrate is the power of wireless carriers, according to In-Stat MDR analyst Neil Strother. He explained: "You don't want to make your customer mad. If the customer is not ready, then Motorola has to say we're not either."

According to IDC analyst David Linsalata: "Carriers everywhere are gaining more leverage. They are asking for and getting more say in the specific features of phones. Each carrier wants to differentiate its service from the other, and phone features are a way to do so. The addition of services beyond voice, games, ring tones, data transmission and now music potentially gives carriers even more say."

Motorola hasn't announced which wireless operator or operators will carry the iTunes phone that was set to hit the market this summer.

The iTunes phone has a display screen like the iPod and is capable of holding 25 to about 100 songs, depending on how much a buyer wants to pay for memory cards. It also features a stereo headset jack and is Bluetooth enabled.