Apple iPhone rumors have been circulating for years, but two recently published patents shed some light on the company's plans. The patents refer to a wireless iPod that makes several allusions to a cellphone. For example, the device allows users to purchase ringtones "if the portable wireless device has cellular phone features." A hardware patent describes a device with "one or more speakers, a microphone, headphone jack, a FireWire or USB port, flash memory slots and one or more antennae or ports used to connect to local networks." A detailed analysis of the patents is available at Macsimum News.
The patents aren't necessarily a smoking gun, but taken along with an unnamed BenQ executive's claims that Apple is shopping for a cell phone manufacturer in Taiwan and analysts from Bank of America (among many, many others) betting on an Apple cell phone in December or early January, the evidence is starting to look pretty convincing. - Eli