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Monday, November 20, 2006, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple working on second, iChat-based cell phone

Apple Computer, which recently released its first mobile handset to manufacturing, is working on a second model that will incorporate messaging capabilities, according to one Wall Street analyst.

"From our understanding, it will leverage off existing iChat software that runs on Macs," American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu told clients on Monday. "We believe it will focus initially on mobile IM as opposed to e-mail."

Wu said it's unclear when Apple hopes to deliver the second device to market, as it appears to remain in the development phase. He said this newly uncovered handset is likely the company's 'smart phone' and could be branded as "iChat mobile."

"We remain uncertain on the exact timing for iPhone, Apple's first in-house iTunes cell phone with a nano-like candy bar form factor we first mentioned in early September," he said. "We believe its 'go-to-market' strategy continues to be the gating factor (MVNO vs. traditional carrier or both)."

On the other hand, Wu said it's his belief that Apple is fast approaching a resolution to its market strategy and the he remains high in his conviction that the company's first cell phone will be released in 2007.

Meanwhile, the analyst said his sources are also indicating that Apple's new (PRODUCT) RED iPod nanos are selling well.

"These iPods are sold through Apple direct channels, have a unique red color, and are for a charitable cause where Apple donates $10 for each sold to AIDS research," he told clients.

Wu is currently modeling Apple to sell 14 million iPods for the December quarter, but given recent momentum in RED iPods, believes his forecast is likely to turn out conservative.

The analyst maintains a 'Buy' rating on shares of Apple with a price target of $92.