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SoftBank denies Apple iPhone partnership

Media speculation, nothin more, firm claims

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Japan's SoftBank has formally distanced itself from claims it's working with Apple to develop a mobile phone based on the iPod. In a terse statement, the company dismissed the allegations, reported last week, as unfounded guesswork.

The claim that the two firms are co-operating was made by Japanese newspaper the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. It alleged Apple CEO Steve Jobs met his opposite number at SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, and they agreed to market the product jointly.

Apple, the paper said, will deliver the hardware under its own brand and ensure the handset can download songs from the iTunes Music Store over the air. SoftBank will deliver the network connectivity and provide other content to subscribers.

The device is said to be a 3G phone. The report reckons it will ship in Japan first, with a US debut coming later. Its arrival in Japan is said to have been pegged for sometime this year.

In March, a BenQ executive claimed an Apple phone was definitely in the works, and it was even suggested the Mac maker would announce the device on its 30th birthday, 1 April 2006. That data came and went with no such announcement. Subsequent reports alleged Apple had delayed the project. ®

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