The company last week filed a series of applications to trademark the phrase "Mobile Me" to cover, among other uses, the sending and receiving of "data, images, audio, video and documents ... over local or global communications networks." The filing suggests that the company is getting ready to dip into the mobile-phone business, said American Technology Research analysts Shaw Wu and Albert Lin in a note issued Thursday.
"We believe this is further indication of AAPL's strategic direction to extend its iPod + iTunes and Mac franchises into new business areas including smart phones, value-added mobile content services, and the broader consumer electronics space," according to the analysts.
An Apple representative did not return a call seeking comment.Rumors have been swirling for months that Apple would launch its own mobile phone and, potentially, its own mobile phone service. The company dominates the digital music space with its iPod players and iTunes store. But many analysts believe that other companies' music-playing mobile phones will eventually threaten the company's pre-eminence in digital music. Last September, Apple took a step toward meeting this challenge when Motorola (MOT)