Apple will finally end the rumours and announce a mobile phone today, with wireless service provided by Cingular, a news report has said.
The phone is expected to be announced at the MacWorld show in San Francisco, according to the report in The Wall Street Journal newspaper, which cited unnamed sources.
Any announcement is likely to come when Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers his keynote speech at the event this morning. Rather than tie itself to a single service provider, Apple is likely to introduce an 'unlocked' phone that can be used on different networks.
Cingular spokesman Ritch Blasi declined to comment, and Apple spokesman Steve Dowling did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Several analysts have predicted that Apple will launch a mobile phone with music playback capabilities, to take advantage of the strong position its iPod has in the music player market. Sales of Apple mobile phones could dwarf sales of the iPod, some analysts have said.
It was rumoured at one point that the phone would be called the iPhone, but that seems unlikely after Cisco released a family of internet phones under that brand name.
Cingular has turned to music to retain and attract new subscribers. It introduced Cingular Music late last year, which offers subscription-based music services from leading online music services including Napster and Yahoo Music from Yahoo to the handset. Cingular said it teamed with Microsoft to incorporate Windows Media Digital Rights Management into select handsets.
Stephen Lawson contributed to this report.