After the unwarranted hype surrounding Apple's iPhone , which won't see the light of day for months yet, we now have a little intrigue over a similarly hybrid phone that never was and never will be.

Nintendo 's spliced device, revealed this week in a US patent application , was first tabled in 2001 and not approved until last summer. The 'Electronic apparatus having game and telephone functions' was to include two processors, one for the phone and a dedicated one to power Yoshi and pals.

The patent application was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by a group from Nintendo that included Satoru Okada , the general manager of research and engineering, so it clearly was a serious undertaking. Okada's previous and subsequent work includes such notable hits as the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS mega-smash.

While it's obvious that the Mario-phone will never be made - Nintendo has far too much at stake with its various handhelds to risk cannibalising sales of those by jumping into the shark-infested Japanese handset market - it would have been fun to see how the old-school gamers fared in the glossy new age of smoke and mirrors.