Microsoft is planning to launch its own smartphone, if a research note from US company Broadpoint AmTech is to be believed.

Citing ""multiple industry sources", two analysts from the firm have told their investment clients that Microsoft is planning to launch such a device in the second half of 2009.

"The goal of tightly integrating hardware and software", like Apple's iPhone or RIM's BlackBerry, is said to be the thinking behind the rumoured launch.

Broadpoint AmTech has no concrete details on the device itself, other than it could use Nvidia's Tegra chipset that would provide support for 3D and HD video, suggesting it would be a high-end model.

Ongoing online rumours can partly fill the gaps the analysts have left. A phone that integrates Zune functionality has long been talked up, with Microsoft itself stating recently that "Zune as a mobile service" was a possibility.

In addition, a flagship smartphone showcasing Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 or 7, may help to fight off strong competitors in the mobile OS arena, although the software company would risk alienating its hardware partners - that would effectively then become rivals - if it made such a move.

As always, we'll keep you informed.