An analyst has reaffirmed his belief that Apple is set to launch a flash-based music player before Christmas.

Thomas Weisel market analyst Jason Pflaum said: "I recently spent two weeks in Asia meeting with a number of folks who are in a position to know details of SigmaTel's supply chain. Based on our industry contacts, we are confident that, one, Apple is planning to launch a flash-based player, and two, SigmaTel is the provider of controller chip for that device."

Pflaum also restated to clients his belief that Apple will release the flash-based player before Christmas. "It's a very tight supply chain, but I think this product from Apple will come out by the end of the year. That could obviously change, but we're pretty confident this will happen and you'll see product on the shelves in December," he told Mac Observer.

A new player, using solid-state flash memory, will have less capacity than the existing iPod and iPod mini, but it is likely to be lighter and cheaper. In line with company policy, Apple has not offered comment on the claims.

Pflaum estimates such a manufacturing deal with Apple could be a $2- to $4-million revenue opportunity for SigmaTel. "The forecast is conservative at best."

Sinificant music-related news is expected from Apple next week. The company will hold an 'special music event' on October 26 in the US and similary themed, possibly linked, events are set to be held by Apple offices in other countries.