Prudential Analyst: Apple to Intro iPhone in Early 2007

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Prudential Analyst: Apple to Intro iPhone in Early 2007

Rumors started flying yesterday about a possible “iPhone” from Apple after a post appeared on the Apple Insider blog citing information from Prudential Equity Group analyst Jesse Tortora, who said in a research note that Apple will begin offering two iPod-based cell phones during the first quarter of 2007.

According to the Apple Insider report, one of the phones will be a smart phone (with integrated keyboard, video and music capabilities) and the other will be a smaller phone with music functionality only. At least one of the phones, Tortora said, will include WiFi capabilities.

The new phones reportedly will be launched in small numbers at first as a market test.

“Although these phones represent significant upside earnings potential for the company, there are some concerns regarding market acceptance and battery life, given the number of functions included in the phones,” Tortora is quoted as saying in the research note.

Some of the blogosphere responses to Tortora’s research note include references to Apple’s application for the “iPhone” trademark. A few posts, such as this one from U.K.-based TechDigest, suggest that the trademark application was made recently and as such is further evidence of Apple’s plans to soon introduce its own cell phone.

But, business lawyer David Canton (who works for the firm of Harrison Pensa in London) wrote

in his eLegal Canton blog that Apple applying for the iPhone trademark is old news.

“The blogosphere has a couple of mentions about an article on the AppleInsider that points to a recent Apple trade-mark application for ‘iPhone’ in a ‘Far Eastern’ trade-mark office,” Canton writes. “Apple applied for the iPhone trade-mark in Canada in October 2004. Note the Canadian application has been opposed by Comwave Telecom, which has also filed an application for iPhone.”

Out of curiosity, I popped over to the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office Web site to see if there were any applications on file there for iPhone. I found four records for “iPhone” by itself (the term also shows up in five other records combined with other words). Below are summaries of the records.

Record 1: “Telephone that integrates a display and interactive abilities with an IP-based network to deliver both voice communication and graphic-based content and services to hotel guestrooms.” Filed March 7, 2005 by Teledex, LLC in San Jose, CA.

Record 2: “Handheld and mobile digital electronic devices for the sending and receiving of telephone calls, faxes, electronic mail, and other digital data…” Filed September 26, 2006 by Ocean Telecom Services LLC in Wilmington, DE.

Record 3: “Computer hardware and software for providing integrated telephone communication with computerized global information networks.” Filed March 20, 1996 by Cisco Tecnology [sic] in San Jose, CA.

Record 4 (marked “abandoned”): “Telecommunications services, namely provision of telecommunications services for an electronic data network.” Filed April 25, 1994 by Stephen J. Page of Pleasanton, CA.

Whether or not the trademark component of the story is truly important, one thing seems certain: we’ll be hearing a lot more about iPhone in the coming weeks and months.