Analysts imaginations are excited by the thought of Apple launching its own mobile phone network in an attempt to drive future growth, as they consider reports of slowing iPod sales.
The company is expected to launch its Motorola/Apple jointly-developed iTunes-capable mobile phone on August 27 at the V Festival.
The phone is reportedly not being welcomed by network operators because it allows users to download songs to the phone from a computer running iTunes, meaning mobile operators see no benefit in terms of a slice of song sale revenue, or bandwidth costs.
Mobile telcos are looking to mobile music services to help them drive business growth.
Apple opportunity: virtual mobile network
However, the mobile market has matured to the extent that Apple could conceivably rent network coverage from a major mobile provider, and resell it to customers under the Apple brand. In this way Apple could maintain market momentum, bring its iTunes phone into wide circulation, and perhaps innovate within an all-new industry sector.
VNUnet this morning reports that most industry-watchers would be surprised should Apple make such a move.
Ripe for revolution
However, ADVFN CEO Clem Chambers described the mobile market as "huge", and "ripe for revolution".
"Can the iPod gobble up the mobile handset market, or will handsets gobble up the MP3 market? Only one thing is for sure: if anyone can do it, it's a rampant Apple led by the brilliant Steve Jobs," he added.
Speaking earlier this week Rob Enderle of The Enderle Group told Forbes that launching its own mobile network would mean Apple would: "Do an end run around carriers".
It would also bring in revenue from handset sales and call charges, he added.
Meanwhile, music industry leaders are already considering the prospects for mobile music sales, and are beginning to ask if the iPod will continue to dominate the market.