Awaiting Apple's iPod Phone, Just Hours to Go

You probably don't realize it, but today might just be the beginning of something new for your pocket or purse.

Rumors are flying in cyberspace that Apple Computer is set to introduce a new iPod that won't just deliver music and videos, but will take phone calls as well.

For months, blogs and technology analysts have been buzzing that Steve Jobs will unveil a phone/video/music device in early 2007. With the company's annual expo set to begin, anticipation is high.

"We will definitely see an Apple wireless phone product introduced this year," said Kaan Yigit, president of Solutions Research Group, a Toronto-based technology consulting firm. "Whether it's introduced [this]Tuesday or not is a big question. If I were guessing, I'd be very surprised if they didn't introduce it then, because there's no new frontier that they could break with their existing product lines."

The device is believed to be part iPod, part cell phone and the newest must-have portable gadget.

It seems to most Apple-watchers that this month's Macworld Expo, scheduled to run from Jan. 8 to Jan. 12 in San Francisco, would be the perfect stage on which to introduce the device. The conclave has nearly always delivered an innovation at the annual event.

Macworld: Birthplace of Innovations

Tim Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies, has been going to Macworld since the event began in 1985, and knows the Apple Computer buzz machine as well as anyone outside the company.

Bajarin was there when a bow-tied Jobs introduced the revolutionary Macintosh computer in 1984 -- the computer actually said "hello" when the sheet was removed, astounding the audience.

He says the iconic CEO is a master of using his conference keynote address to electrify the tech world.

"He uses the Macworld stage to create great interest because he's become such a force in the industry for driving future plans," Bajarin said. "There's no question that phones are becoming more important as music platforms. At this point, Apple has to address that competitive challenge, but it's really to hard to tell until Jobs gets up there whether this is a part of their strategy in the short term."

And analysts are unwilling to bet on an iPod phone introduction -- and the company won't comment on rumors -- but that hasn't stopped the blogging community from dreaming about what the phone might look like or how much it would cost.

Tech pundits, like Digg's Kevin Rose and This Week in Tech's Leo Laporte, have been saying for weeks that they have the inside scoop on what the phantom device might be like.

Rose said in a December video blog that the phone would be announced in January (presumably at the Macworld event), and that he expected it to be extremely small, use two batteries (one for the phone and one for the music/video player), have a slide-out keyboard for easy texting, and come in two sizes (4GB and 8GB).

Rose said he was told by a source that the phone would work on both GSM and CDMA networks, and that it would sell for between $249 to $449 with a phone service contract.

And those phone contracts have yielded the latest hint that Macworld might see the birth of an iPod phone. The tech blog Gizmodo says that Jobs has scheduled meetings with European mobile phone company executives to discuss, among other things, the now-secret "iPhone."

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