The Apple iPhone rumour mill is working at full speed once again. Steve Jobs has previously denied any plans to launch a mobile phone and music player hybrid, but most speculators take everything he says with a pinch of salt.

So, what will they make of today’s official launch of the iPhone – by Linksys. The networking firm has released an iPhone-branded wireless VoIP phone that uses Skype to allow people to make cheap calls over the internet. Has Apple been beaten to the punch on the favoured brand name for its next big thing?

This is not the first potential hurdle Apple would have to overcome to establish the Apple iPhone as a global brand. Web-hosting giant Strato has already launched a VoIP service using that name in Germany. Furthermore, any efforts to dominate a mobile phone market which already has huge players – Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola – is going to extremely tricky.

But all of this second guessing plays right into Apple’s hands. The company’s policy of not revealing any details of plans for hot new products has paid huge dividends over the past few years.

The hype surrounding products that the company may or may not release becomes so huge that when Steve Jobs does announce that his company is entering a new sector, the marketing has already been done. People have read countless news stories, blogs and forum posts about every possible iGizmo that when one is released they already feel in the know. One could be launched at next month’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco. The problem is, no-one knows what it’ll be.