The U.S Patent and Trademark Office posted a patent yesterday detailing plans for Apple Computer to create a multi-function handled device, putting to rest the rumor of an Apple designed portable phone for some experts.

The March 2006 filing, published Thursday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, offers broad illustrations and descriptions of several potential hand held devices that each contain multiple touch sensing devices.

American Technology Researcher Shaw Wu said in a research note on Friday the device is described as potentially including a cell phone, PDA, music player, video player, game player, digital camera, GPS and remote control.

While this is a broad patent application covering a wide variety of areas, we believe it represents the fundamental basis and technology behind Apple's cell phone efforts, he wrote.

He also notes the schematics in the patent are consistent with his view that the phone will have a candy bar form-factor with iPod functionality, including click-wheel input.

Rumors first surfaced when Apple's senior vice-president, Peter Oppenheimer, alluded to Apple's ability to compete in the cell-phone market last May. When asked about the impact of Sony music-phones during a conference call with analysts, Oppenheimer said he was very confident in Apples ability within that marketplace, and stated he was very excited about what we have in the product pipeline.

Wu said he remains upbeat on Apple's prospects in building a material cell phone business given its strong brand name, loyal customer base, and unique click-wheel user experience.

Should Apple gain 1 percent share in a billion unit [cell phone] market, we believe that could amount to a $2 billion opportunity, assuming around 10 million units at a $200 average selling price, but not including potential services and accessories revenue, he wrote.