One of the most-anticipated and pre-hyped products of all times has to be the iPhone. A hybrid device that is part mobile phone and part iPod has the potential to light the mobile technology world on fire like the original iPod did five years ago.
Since the early days of the iPod people have been dreaming of iPhone. Numerous mockups have speculated about what the elusive beast could actually look like. Unfortunately the clever Photoshop jobs only add fuel to the fire inspiring more waves of theory, speculation and dreams.
If Apple's patent applications are any indication of future products then we may have a smoking gun. Macsimum News has posted a story about patent 20060114987 detailing what appears to be an iPod/smartphone hybrid with video conferencing capabilities.
The patent was created on 27 October 2005 and published on 01 June 2006 by Kendyl Roman of mediaFrame, Inc. In it Roman describes a wireless handheld device which can "compress, enhance, encode, transmit, decompress and display digital video images in real time."
Although there are numerous references to the iPod ("iPod-like," "iPod-type," "enhanced iPod" and "improved iPod") the patent goes out of it's way to distance itself from Apple Computer. There are no references to the computer company whatsoever, but a clue may lie in a subtle reference to QuickTime ("Any number of methods can be encoded into a QuickTime compressor/decompressor (codec)..."
Apple has a storied history of cloaking their patents, like filing them in other countries, so don't be fooled by the circa 1991 scroll wheel or the third-grade napkin drawings, it's all part of the dance. In fact, I challenge you to actually read the entire patent in one sitting. It's intentionally broad so that they can bury actual features in amongst numerous decoys designed to lead you off the path. It's also incredibly long-winded in an attempt to bore and confuse the average reader.
However, filing a patent doesn't necessarily mean that Apple will ever produce such a device (Remember the touch-sensitive iPod patent?). Apple or an agent could file such a patent on their behalf as a defensive move against competitors trying to enter the market. I prefer to believe that the patent belongs to Apple and that we'll see an Apple video-phone/iPod hybrid by Thanksgiving, but then again I'm a dreamer.
YouTube has a video of what the iPhone commercial could look like.
My personal favorite is this video concept of the iTalk. If it looks anything like iTalk, I'll buy two at introduction.
So, what's your take? Is the patent Apple's? Are they ever going to actually make it? Would you buy one?