The inevitability of an Apple phone?

Speculation about the coming arrival of an Apple mobile phone

I discussed in a blog entry several months ago that Apple would make it's own phone, one that supported songs purchased from iTunes and would leverage the success of the iPod.  Instead, they came out with the ROKR phone through Motorola, a phone that simply licensed the FairPlay DRM instead of relying on Apple to design the product.

That really was a half-step.  The iPod's success comes down in no small part to design.  It really makes no sense to hand design responsibilities to another company when Apple has proven the quality of its in-house designers.  Likewise, given the nature of modern cell phone manufacturing, contracting with a fabrication outsourcer isn't hard to do, and all the majors (Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola) do it.

OSNews pointed me to an article on AppleInsider where recent trademark filings for the term "Mobile Me" hint at not just a mobile phone, but an Apple PDA / Smartphone that plays iTunes music.

Revenge of the Newton?  As I've noted before, I knew someone who had a Newton way back when, and it didn't impress me the way early Palm devices did.  The whole mobile phone / PDA convergence, however, creates new opportunities for competitors to enter the market, as it constitutes an "inflection point" where no one company really has dominance. 

If Apple has created a device that is such a "must have" that people are even designing pants for it, I should think Apple has a leg-up on the new market.  Granted, so does Microsoft, as their PDA dominance is another avenue of attack.

Apple looks to be making things interesting, though.  All I have to say is, what took them so long?