Apple patent hints at gesture controls for next iPhone

Although Apple has yet to confirm expectations it will release a new edition of its wildly popular iPhone sometime this summer, one analyst anticipates the smartphone will arrive with new gesture-based functionality as well as a reduced total cost of ownership. In a research note published late last week, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty predicts Apple will introduce a more economically friendly device in an effort to galvanize adoption: "We expect Apple to launch new iPhones in June that offer both a lower total cost of ownership and new functionality, potentially including gesture-based technology," she writes. Morgan Stanley research indicates that hardware cost is the greatest barrier to iPhone adoption, followed by service plan cost, upfront payment and contract length.  

Huberty's forecast is in line with a recent Apple patent filing discovered and published by Patently Apple, enabling users to control their incoming calls and voicemail by swiping their finger over the external camera lens. In addition to simplifying voicemail rewind and fast-forward functions, the new controls also promise to allow one-handed navigation of web pages, documents, contact lists, iTunes libraries and related content, all tied to different swiping variations and combinations.

Huberty also projects shipments of Apple's forthcoming iPad tablet device will top 6 million in 2010, versus Wall Street average forecasts of 3 million to 4 million. "We expect Apple to ship its first iPad and announce additional content deals in late March to better than expected demand," Huberty contends. "We see the iPad targeting the sub-$800 consumer notebook market which equates to 30M annual units just in the U.S. (120M globally)."

For more on the Morgan Stanley forecast:
- read this AppleInsider article

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