Apple trademark application sparks rumours of iPod mobile phone launch

Apple has filed several trademark applications around the term “Mobile Me” leading to speculation that it is gearing up to launch an iPod phone.

The company has already worked with Motorola on the ROKR handset, which features iTunes software, but industry experts are now predicting that Apple could bring out a branded smart phone of its own. There is even a suggestion that it might become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) like Virgin Mobile.

The introduction of MP3 players on mobile phones has led some to predict the death of the iPod and there is a growing feeling that launching its own mobile phone would strengthen Apple’s position.

Ovum research director Gary Barnett says: “It would be an obvious move for Apple to look at ways of taking its excellent reputation for brand and design into other markets and an iPod phone is certainly a possibility.”

An Apple spokeswoman declines to comment on the rumours, but even Motorola chief executive Ed Zander said late last year: “We know that it is going to build a smart phone. It’s only a matter of time.”

The trademark applications were filed earlier this month and covered a number of areas including digital music, mobile communications and portable data.

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