Apple + new patent = iPhone speculation
U.S. approves patent for speech technology fueling predictions of iPod maker's second shot at a cell phone.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Apple Computer Inc. won a patent for a speech-recognition technology earlier this week, fueling speculation that the iPod-maker is laying the groundwork for a future "iPhone."

The patent, approved Tuesday by the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, allows Apple to assign "meanings to spoken utterances in a speech recognition system."

TECHNOLOGY

The Apple-focused blog Mac News Network, which first reported the news, suggested that the patent, which was first filed in February of 2004, could be used for a future "iPhone."

Apple (down $0.01 to $82.18, Charts) has long been rumored to be creating a cell phone that both fields calls and plays music, dubbed an "iPhone", in an effort to drive sales beyond its popular iPod, which faces threats from Microsoft (up $0.34 to $28.69, Charts), which is set to release its Zune MP3 player next month.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has suggested that such a phone is forthcoming.

"We believe in six months the halo effect will expand beyond a simple iPod-to-Mac correlation into a four-way relationship with iPod, Mac, iPhone, and iTV benefiting from each other's success," Munster said in a note to clients, Reuters reported.

Apple previously launched a co-branded cell phone with Motorola (down $0.22 to $23.37, Charts) in 2005, called the ROKR, but the phone failed to live up to expectations, was dogged by negative reviews.


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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.