Apple Computer is moving closer to releasing its rumored mobile phone, analysts revealed on Monday, moving the company into areas of the consumer electronic industry previously untouched.

The Cupertino Calif.-based company may begin to compete in the cell-phone market as early as March of 2007, analyst believe, introducing one phone with video capabilities, and another slimmer version with music playback abilities.

Based upon our recent checks, we expect Apple to unveil two models of its widely anticipated cell phones in early [Calendar Year] '07, said Jesse Tortora, research analyst at Prudential Equities.

We have learned that one model will be a smart phone, including integrated keyboard, video and music capability, while the other model will be a slimmer phone with music capability. At least one of the models will include WiFi.

Though the quantity of the new phones are not available, Tortora believes that the computer maker will ship in limited supplies initially, giving the firm time to test the market and observe consumer response. The phone's numerous features may be its downfall, he remarks.

Although these phones represent significant upside earnings potential for the company, there are some concerns regarding market acceptance and battery life, given the number of functions included in the phones, he adds.

Rumors of an Apply phone first surfaced when an Apple senior vice-president alluded to Apple's ability to compete in the cell-phone market last May. During a conference call with analysts, Apple's Peter Oppenheimer said that he was very confident his firm's ability to compete in the cell-phone marketplace, and stated he was very excited about what we have in the product pipeline.

Analysts expect the phone to be officially announced at Apple's MacWorld Conference in January of 2007.