Way back in December '04, I wrote about the possibility of an Apple branded cell phone, and as we all know this turned out to be the Motorola ROKR. It did not include any iPhoto integration as the original rumor went, but still turned out to be a nice phone, though not branded by Apple.
Now, some months after this, Nokia announced that it would be bundling a new browser based on Sarari with their (excellent) Series 60 phones, thanks to help from Apple. I'm frankly surprised that this didn't spur another round of rumors at the time. But now, whispers are again being heard...
The press was not terribly kind with the ROKR, bloggers complained about various phone elements, and there were charges by many that Apple sabotaged the phone so that it wouldn't cripple iPod sales, and others considered the possibility that Apple was testing the waters for a phone of their own design to be released at a later time. The new SLVR model is a bit more stylish and hip, but carries the same iTunes limitations (100 songs), and slow transfer speeds for tunes.
What few folks are saying, though, is that this 100 song 'limit' is pretty much the max on the 512Mb TransFlash module in the phone, currently the largest capacity chip available of that type, and the slow data transfers appear to be a function of this memory, not a limitation of the phone's USB port.
On the Nokia front, their new browser is set to be available the first half of 2006, so of course we have no info on what the public will think of this yet. A browser isn't as sexy as iTunes, but still, it's another core Apple technology that will be in another phone.
So, the question now is, will Apple just be helping others to make their products better, or is this a preliminary move in the creation of a real Apple branded cell phone, something that incorporates Apple's sense of style and functionality with lifestyle apps like iTunes and iPhoto, and productivity apps like Safari, iCal, and Address Book (similar apps are already present in most phones)?