Is iPhone a phony?

[intro] The web has been buzzing with rumours of an Apple iPhone for years. But now idle speculation is giving way to something approaching fact.[/i

The web has been buzzing with rumours of an Apple iPhone for years. But now idle speculation is giving way to something approaching fact.

News of an iPod-flavoured handset started to crystalise in the middle of November, when industry insiders told Chinese newspaper Commercial Times that a company called Foxxcon had received an order for 12m phones from Apple.

Then Digg.com founder and Apple watcher Kevin Rose used his podcast to claim more ‘facts’ about the iPhone – most notably that it will apparently come in two capacities (2GB and 4GB), and has separate batteries for phone and music player. He also suggested that the phone would be very small with a slider design (see my dubious mock-up, above).

I’m still slightly sceptical. Motorola’s iTunes-flavoured handsets failed to set the world alight, and since his return Steve Jobs has been careful to focus on Apple’s core strengths. The iPod was a breakthrough product, of course, but the mobile market is already well served for music mobiles, in particular Sony Ericsson’s excellent Walkman range.

And yet my excitement is starting to get the better of me – not least because Apple has invited me to Macworld San Francisco in early January, where Rose predicts the iPhone will be unveiled. Christmas may well be coming a couple of weeks late for me… keep watching this space to find out more.

Even if the iPhone doesn’t make an appearance, we’re likely to seem more about the media-streaming device codenamed iTV, plus new laptops including – I hope – an ultraportable 12in MacBook Pro.