That Microsoft is planning to launch a "Zune phone" is one of the staple tech-world rumours that re-emerges every now and again, and it seems such whisperings are hitting the wires at the moment.

The apparent success of Apple's iPhone, as well as Microsoft's purchase of mobile phone software company Danger, who created the Sidekick's OS, are two factors said to be influential in the new Zune phone chatter.

A recent memo from Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer to staff is also said to possibly hit towards such a device, with Ballmer stating:

"We’re changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We’ll do the same with phones—providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences."

In addition, the jkOnTheRun blog has information from an anonymous reader that Microsoft is currently working on a Zune phone, with cross-departmental meetings in Redmond mooted as the internal launch pad for the handset.

This source reports that the touchscreen-based Zune phone will be based on a specialised variant of Windows Mobile 7 with functionality based around Windows Live Services.