The recently released firmware update 2.2.1 for iPhone and iPod Touch users may have not been so dull after all. The eagle eyed fellows at have found an interesting reference that suggests the possibility of a new iPhone model being developed.

Buried into the latest firmware is a product string for an iPhone2,1 device. This is a version of the handset that has never been publicly available or else visible in a previous firmware, seeing as the original iPhone was internally called iPhone1,1 whereas the iPhone 3G was designated as iPhone1,2. The larger jump in product number could be an indication that we'll see some rather dramatic changes arrive with the allegedly upcoming new model. At least that was the case with the second generation iPod touch, which is listed as iPod 2,1 and includes faster and additional internal hardware as well as a significant external redesign compared to its predecessor.

Of course, this only confirms the obvious: Apple will eventually update its wildly successful smartphone. Interestingly however some further evidence suggests that prototypes are already being tested, with an anonymous developer that uses PinchMedia to serve ads in his iPhone application noticing this unannounced model showing up in his monthly report.

There are lot of rumors and no actual information regarding the next-generation iPhone. Some speculate it could offer more advanced graphics to improve its potential as a mobile gaming platform, newer ARM processors or new communications chips that would permit faster 3G cellular data. Perhaps we will learn more around June, which would fall in line with previous launches.