Do we need another iPhone ??—Rumors abound about Apple at the WWDC on Monday

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World Wide Developers Conference

As usual, the company is tight-lipped – which, as always, just adds to the frenzy. That, of course, is the way they like it and the way we always play it. At least we all have our roles down pat!

Unsurprisingly, this year’s rumours centre on the iPhone, which has sold around 21 million handsets in its roughly two-and-a-half short years.

Mobile phones

One analyst, Gartner, reports that the iPhone was the fastest-growing smartphone of 2008; another, PiperJaffray, believes that Apple can grow its sales to 45 million units by the end of 2009.

Let’s not forget that it still ranks third behind Nokia and Research in Motion‘s BlackBerry. And let’s throw in the unknown factor of the Palm Pre, which launches in the States this weekend and which some industry watchers have touted as a serious challenger to Apple.

Rumoured iPhone features include better battery life, a video camera, memory upgrades, a speedier processor and a digital compass. There has also been talk of a cheaper handset, selling at around $99-$149.

The previously-announced improvements to the operating system via a software upgrade should be rolled out, adding in-app commerce, live streaming and the ability to cut and paste. There will also be some new numbers on the app store – which, earlier in the year, passed the one billion download mark. But does all this really set the heather on fire?

Well, it would if “you know who” were doing the honours from centre stage. Apple’s founder and CEO Steve Jobs has been on sick leave since the beginning of the year and is due back at his desk at the end of the month.

Naturally, the “will he / won’t he” question of Mr Jobs making an appearance at the WWDC comes down to a fact that nobody really knows, except for the chosen few and his nibs.

The BBC will be there to report on whether or not the rumour mill got it right this time and whether Apple pulls out its famous “one last thing” to wow the crowd.

Thanks to Maggie Shiels of the BBC.

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