Apple 'iPhone' to Hit Stores in January?

Apple Computer, maker of the uber-popular iPod digital media player, is prepping two cell phones that it could release as early as January at its MacWorld conference, Forbes.com reports.

The news comes from a report by Jesse Tortora, a Prudential Equity Group analyst, who said "recent checks" give him the impression that Apple in early 2007 will make its move into the mobile phone space with a smart phone and a music phone, according to Forbes.com. Tortora did not identify specific sources of the information, Forbes.com reports.

Tortora predicted that Apple will launch one phone with wireless connectivity, and that both will initially be manufactured in small quantities, according to Forbes.com.

Forbes.com identified battery life as one potential challenge Apple will need to overcome if it hopes to become as successful in the smart phone market as it has been in the digital music player and download space, and Microsoft and its upcoming Zune lineup could also present a challenge in the space. Microsoft recently said it will release a 30GB version of Zune on Nov. 14 in the United States that will sell for $250--the same price Apple charges for its 30GB video iPod.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs recently downplayed the challenge Microsoft and Zune will present, saying he wasn't concerned with the software giant's move.

Tortora did not make any predictions as to which carriers Apple may side with, but some websites have speculated that Cingular is the leading option, Forbes.com reports.

In early October, T-Mobile Chief Executive Robert Dotson made a comment on how he thought Apple's operating system offers a glimpse into the next generation of wireless networks, sparking a number of rumors that T-Mobile also may be high up in the running for an Apple iPhone partnership, according to Forbes.com.

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