Apple's long-mooted iPhone appears to lead Wall Street's rumour machine as a possible release for 2006, according to Bloomberg.

Columnist Mark Gilbert reckons an Apple mobile phone handset is likely next year, quoting Morgan Stanley analyst Rebecca Runkle who believes such a device couold generate $1.2 billion in sales.

He points to the sheer number of handsets sold globally - 810 million in 2005. He contrasts this with the 28 million iPods Apple has sold so far in 2005 (and the maybe ten million more it should have shifted by the end of December).

A move into handsets would make sense, he opines, because: "As successful as Apple's portable music player is, the company is settling for a big slice of a small pie."