Is the much-rumored Zune phone finally to see the light of day?

A report in Barrons' cites Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research predicting that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will unveil a device combining the Zune music player with the recently-acquired Danger Sidekick during his Jan. 7 keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Microsoft executives in the past have downplayed any speculation of a Zune phone. But the argument may be one of semantics. When the Zune first launched, Microsoft said it someday planned to add the Zune software to mobile phones and other devices, including the Xbox 360. So, technically, that's not the creation of a new device, but rather adding new technology to existing devices (like the Sidekick). Semantics to be sure, so all eyes will be on Ballmer Jan. 7 at the CES for more details.