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Wednesday, February 01, 2006, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Apple may be planning red iPod to help fight AIDS

Activist and rock singer Bono may soon partner with Apple Computer on a red-colored iPod to help promote a new project aimed at battling AIDS, according to reports.

The U2 frontman last week unveiled the project, dubbed Product Red, at the Davos World Economic Forum, as first reported by Macworld UK.

The charity hopes to raise money to help finance the fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis 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 rumors that Bono may have applied a little leverage in his relationship with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs to persuade the Cupertino, Calif.-based iPod maker to release a Product Red-branded iPod.

The rumors first emerged when a note in the January 20th edition of the popular celebrity gossip newsletter, Popbitch, reported that the singer was overheard at Dublin's Michelin-starred Patrick Guilbaud restaurant "discussing a new charity red Am Ex card and red iPod."

Last week the rumors gained considerable momentum when Bono announced an initial list of corporations that have agreed to specially design merchandise for the cause, including Gap, Converse, Giorgio Armani and American Express.

True to rumors, the latter corporation announced a new, no-fee credit card in the UK called American Express RED3. For every pound spent on the card, American Express promises to donate a minimum of 1 percent to the Product Red charity.

"American Express RED will be the first credit card to meet payment needs of a new and growing group of individuals termed 'Conscience Consumers'," American Express said in a statement. "These are consumers who make decisions about the brands they purchase based on their social, ethical, and environmental values."

Apple has reportedly declined to comment on the "rumors and speculation" of a red iPod.

Meanwhile, AppleInsider continues to hear rumblings that the iPod maker is planning a special music event or announcement later this month to introduce new iPods and other music products suspiciously omitted from the company's opening keynote presentation at Macworld in January.

If Apple is indeed planning a Product Red-branded iPod, such an event would likely serve as an ideal launch-pad for the device.