“Speculation has mounted that Apple is developing its own mobile phone — popularly labeled the iPhone — that will combine the stylish design of its iPod music and video player with mobile phone features.”

Last fall Apple and Motorola released the Rokr after working together to produce the phone, its launch almost died within minutes when Steve Jobs used the media event for the Rokr to break the news about the Ipod Nano, which promptly stole the thunder from the doomed Rokr.

Now Walt Mossberg and a number of media analysts believe that Apple working with Softbank will be working to release “a media-playing cellphone and a home-media hub” both of which would jab right back in the eye of their former partner Motorola, who has been producing home-media hubs for several years now. Motorola is also known for cellphones. 🙂

Partnering with Softbank would be a smart move for Apple, as Apple has little experience partnering with Wireless carriers. Large carriers might be enthused to get the next “Ipod” like device on a service plan, however bringing and inexperienced cell phone maker up to speed would not be an easy sell.

Hence Apple’s original partnering with number 2 cell phone ‘manufacturer’ Motorola and now Softbank, which has a long history of breaking new technical ground in the cellular industry especially in Japan.

The biggest question will actually come from Apple’s ability to remain current. Cell phone makers do not need Apple to provide cell phones with MP3 and media capabilities. Apple has broken ground in bringing the MP3 listening audience home to a store where they pay for music and media, however their unwillingness to open up their standards to other manufacturers smacks both of a future monopoly and sounds a lot like the broken record of a business plan that was Apple computer in the early 90’s when PC manufacturer’s ran circles around the companies sales, despite selling inferior products.

In consumer electronics, price rules the day especially when the price drops. Features need to be great at first, but as the product moves out to the masses, it only needs to be good enough. Apple has a lot of work to do to stay ahead with the early adopters and keep the market feeling the need to pay top dollar for a product that anyone can manufacture.

Apple, Softbank plan iPod mobile phones

This articles with all its goofy brand names and trademarks has played havoc on my spell checker. We are rapidly moving towards the day where there will be no names left.