iPhone is the name used to refer to the combined digital audio player and mobile phone rumored to be under development by Apple Computer, based on the company's popular iPod player. "iPhone" is no longer expected to be the final product name. Many analysts expect Apple to launch the iPhone in the first half of 2007, possibly at the January Macworld. Apple previously collaborated with Motorola to integrate iTunes into the under-performing ROKR.
Hype among analysts and Apple fans has driven great anticipation for the rumored product; Apple shares hit an all-time high of $88.14 on the Nasdaq on November 21, 2006; in after-hours trading following the December 1, 2006 patent publication, Apple shares were steady at $91.66.
In summer 2006, Apple's Chief Financial Officer, Peter Oppenheimer, told analysts that the company wasn't "sitting around doing nothing" about the wireless industry. On November 14, 2006, the Taiwan newspaper Commercial Times reported that Foxconn/Hon Hai Precision Industry, manufacturers of the iPod, had won a contract to produce 12 million mobile handsets for Apple.
While there had been no product announcement until January 2007 , the general media consensus was that such the product would carry the "iPhone" name. The domain "iphone.org" had been registered to Apple since December 16, 1999, and Apple has held trademarks on "iPhone" in Australia and Singapore since 2002, with various other filings worldwide. However, InfoGear, now owned by Cisco Systems, filed a U.S. trademark for "iPhone" in 1996, gaining full registration in 1999. Cisco's Linksys unit later revived the trademark for a line of VoIP-capable handheld devices, putting Apple's use of the name in doubt.
In March 2006, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent for a "multi-functional handheld device" that offered mobile phone and music-playing functions, among others. The patent states that it is related to other patents held by Apple, and is credited to an inventor, Steven Hotelling, who has previously filed patents related to Apple. On October 24, 2006, the U.S. patent office approved an Apple patent for speech recognition technology, fueling further speculation about the possible phone. On November 9, 2006, the U.S. patent office published patents filed by Apple that seemed to confirm iPhone rumors. These patents described an "actuating user interface for media player" and "universal docking station for hand-held electronic devices". On December 1, 2006, an Apple patent filed in August was made public; the patent described a "portable computing device capable of wireless communications" in continuation of older patent applications for a "media player system". The Financial Times reported that the new patent "all but ended" speculation over whether Apple is developing an iPod-phone combination.
Some rumors have linked the iPhone with carriers including Cingular and Deutsche Telekom; T-Mobile has also generated speculation following T-Mobile's CEO Robert Dotson's statement on October 6, 2006, that Apple's operating system was the future for wireless networks. Some analysts have speculated that Apple would enter the wireless market as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Other analysts have speculated that the iPhone will be "carrier-free", and will accept a standard SIM card. According to Prudential analyst Jesse Tortora, in January 2007, Apple will begin selling two different mobile phone models: a smartphone and a slim music phone. This prediction was supported by a research paper released on November 20, 2006, in which Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research reported that Apple is developing two models of the iPhone; the first, which Wu predicts will be released in early 2007, will resemble the iPod nano. According to Wu, the second model, a smartphone, will leverage Apple's iChat and iTunes programs. A Piper Jaffray analyst has also predicted that the iPhone will bring about "a four-way relationship with iPod, Mac, iPhone, and iTV".
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