Rumors of an iTunes Phone Stir the Crowds

Apple has done what it does best once again. Fans and the media alike are abuzz trying to guess at what the company will reveal Sept. 7 at a “special event” in San Francisco.

Because Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about new products and because its iPod is still the portable music player to have, its announcement-of-an-announcement has got imaginations running wild.

“Sometimes the Apple aficionados confuse what they want with what will really happen,” Michael Gartenberg, vice president of Jupiter Media, told MacNewsWorld. “It’s unlikely we’re going to see a video iPod” or some of the other wilder predictions some have made about the event.

But Apple has ramped up the speculation with an invitation that confidently evokes the success of the company’s release in 2001 of the original 5 GB iPod: “1,000 songs in your pocket changed everything. Here we go again.”

Place Your Bets

What is highly probable is that Apple will announce what Motorola has been talking about for months: an iTunes-enabled cell phone. This is a big deal for Apple, Gartenberg pointed out, because it would be the first time the computer-making icon has issued a license to another company for the use of its technology.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to presume this is the core point of what they’ll be introducing,” Gartenberg said. “The long shot would be that Apple will pull a rabbit out of its hat. The safe bet is that this will be a music-related announcement.”

Motorola has said that it would release the phone by the end of the quarter, which gives it only three weeks if the Sept. 7 unveiling is not related to the phone.

Speculation in the Air

But Gartenberg said that even if the announcement is about the phone, there are plenty of unanswered questions.

“Will this be only for downloading songs from a PC? What about price point, carrier and capacity? It’s possible we might see a refresh to the iPod line, which would not be out of place,” he said.

A Reuters report today indicated that Cingular is expected to release plans next week to sell the Motorola iTunes-equipped phone.

Last week, industry analyst firm iSuppli reported that its sources said Apple planned to buy as much as 40 percent of Samsung’s second-half flash memory output to be used in a new, 4 GB iPod Mini, which Apple would release in time for the holiday shopping season. The current version of the 4 GB mini contains a hard drive. Apple’s iPod Shuffle uses flash memory.

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