Cingular reportedly on board Apple phone

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NEW YORK -- Cingular Wireless is expected to be the service provider for a new Apple Computer Inc. cell phone, according to a published report.

The new phone and service could be unveiled as early as Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site Monday night, citing unnamed people familiar with the situation.

The Associated Press left a message seeking comment for Apple spokesman Steve Dowling. Cingular representatives could not be reached for comment Monday night.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is expected to announce at least one revolutionary product during his keynote speech Tuesday at the at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. Speculation has focused mainly on an Apple-branded cellular phone, which some are calling iPhone, and iTV, a set-top box that allows people to send video from their computers to their televisions.

Cingular, a unit of AT&T Inc., launched an Apple-related phone and MP3 player, called ROKR, in 2005. But the product was widely considered a flop because it could only hold 100 songs and it required users to buy songs through a computer and download the songs to the phone -- deficiencies a new phone from Apple would likely remedy.

Although Apple has refused to comment on rumors it would launch a cellular phone at Macworld, the mere suggestion that the maker of the iconic iPod might make a glamorous, simple cell phone that downloads, plays and shares digital music has intimidated traditional telecommunications companies such as Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Verizon Wireless.

"Even if Apple does not announce a phone, just the threat of Apple's entry could spur innovation," Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis, wrote in a research note last week. "If Apple builds a phone that is easy and genuinely pleasurable to use, the company will have a winner no matter how it is priced or sold."
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