Motorola and Apple will release a phone in the first half of 2005 that will be able to play songs purchased from Apple's iTunes music store an Apple executive has confirmed in an interview with Forbes magazine in America.

The news, adds to the speculation that Apple will be launching a flash based MP3 player next year. The phone will see the two companies join forces.

The two companies talked publicly about such a device last summer, saying the device would connect both to Windows and Macintosh computers. However, this is the first mention that the device actually has been developed and is on schedule to be released.

Precise details remain sketchy, Forbes quoted Eddy Cue, Apples' vice president in charge of applications, as saying the phone was close to being released.

"We've said we have something coming on this in the first half of 2005 and we're definitely on schedule for that," Forbes quoted Cue as saying. "Hopefully you'll be able to see more about it soon."

Using the phone do playback music on the move seems to be the next logical step for the download music market and with flash memory now reaching 2Gb the possibilities of having large hard drives in phone sized devices is just around the corner.