Rumor: Apple working on new iTunes phone?

Apple and Japanese telecom giant Softbank may be developing a new mobile phone that can download songs from iTunes, according to a report from Japan's Nihon Keizei Shimbun (paid registration required) Friday.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to inquiries about the report. Motorola, of course, put out the first phone with iTunes last year, but those phones couldn't download songs over the air.

According to a Reuters interpretation of the report, the rumored Apple-Softbank phone would do just that. Wireless networks in Japan are extremely fast and allow people to use their cell phones for a variety of things, such as buying food and gear from Japan's ubiquitous vending machines. In the U.S., Verizon offers its V-Cast music download service for mobile phones.

What isn't clear is whether the companies are working on the iPhone, or Mac Mobile, or whatever you'd like to call it. Many people, including Motorola CEO Ed Zander, think Apple will eventually release its own mobile-phone design, but thus far it has been content to partner with companies like Motorola and dominate the portable digital music market with the iPod.

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