Microsoft Zune phone coming in two months

Microsoft is planning to bring a Zune-branded phone to market according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The blog posting quotes a report by a Jeffries and Company analyst who says "Our recent industry checks indicate Microsoft will be debuting its own phone some time in the next two months. We expect the new phone to debut soon, at either the Feb 15-18 Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona Spain, or possibly at CTIA in Las Vegas one month later."

Microsoft has always claimed that its mobile phone strategy was strictly limited to software, but rumours about the Redmond company getting into the hardware market have never really gone away. Named the Pink Project, the fabled phone has allegedly been spotted in the wild many times, but has never actually come to fruition.

A new handset launch could also explain the painful delays to the company's much-anticipated Windows Mobile 7 operating system, which has been put back more times than a carton of cracked eggs.

Steve Ballmer is no doubt jealously eyeing Apple's dominance of the app phone arena and hopes that the jump from the iPod to the iPhone can be replicated between the Zune media player and Microsoft's new mobile handset, if it ever happens.

If that's the case, and based on the Zune's current market penetration, Microsoft can expect to sell at least six or seven phones. Maybe as many as ten.