Activist and rock singer Bono unveiled a new project to help the battle against AIDs at the Davos World Economic Forum last week, Product Red.

The charity hopes to raise money to help finance the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria in Africa by persuading the world's biggest companies to release special Product Red-branded goods, giving part of the profits to the fighting fund.

The news has sparked a new wave of rumours claiming Bono may have applied a little leverage in his relationship with Apple to persuade the California firm to release a Product Red-branded iPod.

These rumours were sparked by a recent note in the popular Popbitch newsletter, which reported Bono being overheard in a restaurant discussing, "a new charity red Amex card and red iPod".

Popbitch's prattling gained considerable currency last week when Bono revealed the initial launch partners for Product Red. These include GAP, Converse, Giorgio Armani - and American Express (Amex).

The latter firm is going to launch a no-fee Product Red credit card in the UK, and will give a penny on every pound spent using the card to the fund.

The scheme links the battle against disease with commercial partnerships, with leading global brands agreeing to market special versions of their products, handing an estimated 40 per cent of profits to the charity.

Speaking to the BBC, Bono stressed the commercial nature of the scheme: "Philanthropy is like hippy music, holding hands. Red is more like punk rock, hip hop, this should feel like hard commerce," he said.

On Apple's involvement, T3 claims it has "heard that an announcement could soon be on the cards."

Apple declined to comment on rumours and speculation.