“Nana Furman doesn’t own a mobile phone, preferring not to be pestered with calls during her private time. But Furman, a young Chicago professional, is a big fan of the iPod and all things Apple. So, if Apple Computer were to launch a cell phone–one with links to Apple’s Web music store and other Apple applications–she might reconsider, saying she would ‘definitely be intrigued.’ Apple watchers and wireless-industry observers think a lot of people would be intrigued. In fact, they expect the iPod maker to launch its own phone and wireless service, calling it a logical extension for Apple and its famous brand,” Mike Hughlett and Eric Benderoff report for the Chicago Tribune.

“‘Nobody has come up with the definitive music experience on a handset yet,’ said John Jackson, a wireless industry analyst at market researcher the Yankee Group. ‘It’s a very open opportunity. It has powerful potential.’ If it is being built, its arrival time is uncertain. But Jackson and others say sooner is best for Apple: Phonemakers and wireless networks are beefing up their own music offerings. ‘If (Apple) doesn’t do it this year, there’s little sense of doing it,’ Jackson said. ‘Nobody is sitting still,'” Hughlett and Benderoff report. “Apple would probably get into wireless by becoming a “Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or MVNO. An MVNO offers consumers a package deal: phones and phone service. Under that scenario, it would buy wholesale airtime from a wireless network, and farm out much of its work–billing, phone distribution, customer service–to companies that specialize in those services. The MVNO launched earlier this year by sports network ESPN is a case in point. ESPN Mobile buys airtime from Sprint. It then focuses on producing content for the service–video clips, scores, etc.–and for marketing it. Just about everything else is contracted out.”

Full article here.

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