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5 Apple Patents Hint At Surprises
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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2014 | 10:51:19 AM
Solar Power
How intrigued are you by the solar power patents, readers? My Twitter feed is buzzing on this one.
dkdkdkdkd
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dkdkdkdkd,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/29/2014 | 12:13:11 PM
Re: Solar Power
Boring. Yawn. No Steve Jobs equals Apple's decline. Let's hear it for introverts. They are unique. Want to impress us Apple? Let's see the long rumored and hypothesized Apple TV. Not the converter box, but a real TV. Let's see Apple do to the TV what it did to the phone. Then I will stop yawning. 
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2014 | 12:42:27 PM
Re: Solar Power
It strikes me that none of this is really new. It may be new or improved for Apple devices, but similar things are being done on other devices or via peripherals or add-ons. This is really only barely newsworthy because it is Apple.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2014 | 6:41:55 PM
Re: Solar Power
I can appreciate why some of these patents might not feel like fresh ideas. But as you alluded, they're noteworthy because they're from Apple. If there's one thing the company has done remarkably well, it's this: find the right moment and manner to bring previously-expressed ideas to market.

Some people like to argue that Apple gets too much praise for the iPad, for example, and that Microsoft actually invented tablet computers. There's a nugget of validity in this kind of argument, but it's also pretty myopic. If what Apple accomplished were so easy to dismiss, why hasn't someone else managed comparable success? Apple might not have produced the first tablet prototype, but it built the first one that people actually wanted to use. Based on this kind of batting average, there's a natural curiosity when Apple focuses attention around a specific technology. Without Steve Jobs, Apple still has to prove that its intuition for market shifts is intact, but when the company decides to take a stab where others have dabbled and failed, I pay attention.

Among these patents, I like the idea of a Smart Cover that extends the iPad's display. Pretty cool-- and I like that both Apple and Microsoft are thinking of tablet covers that do more than typing. Tablets welcome certain use cases, and we should be seeing more first-party accessories that push the envelope a bit.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2014 | 11:20:36 PM
Re: Solar Power
@Michael: And Apple and Microsoft both ripped off Xerox!  ;)
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2014 | 1:14:46 PM
Re: Solar Power
I will respectfully disagree. It will be harder for Apple to convince people to dump their flat screen TVs than it was to convince them to dump Windows notebooks and BlackBerry devices. I am watching what happens to existing Apple TV device.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2014 | 11:22:02 PM
Re: Solar Power
What interests me about the Apple TV Set (or whayever) is that every time there's a delay (and how long has this been rumored now?) the differential between it and the rest of the market narrows. Let's face it, to commandeer the kind of prices and margin that Apple likes, this TV will need to be mind-blowingly good to justify it. Maybe it was; will it still offer something sufficiently special if and when it finally hits the market?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2014 | 6:51:30 PM
Re: Solar Power
While I'd definitely like to see what an Apple TV set would look like, I'm not convinced such a product is coming. To preserve the margins to which it's accustomed, Apple would need to introduce a pretty magical device. I think that the next Apple TV could be pretty cool, however. As television and the Internet collapse on one another, I'm not convinced that the hardware itself will matter much (beyond certain base specs) for Apple's goals. Apple TV could become sort of like an operating system that takes over your TV set's native OS. You could buy any of a range of sets from a range of manufacturers, but content  delivery, navigation and perhaps even storage will run through Apple's UI and ecosystem. Microsoft and others are doing many of the same things. So perhaps as Apple TV evolves, Apple (and its customers) can get the benefits of an Apple television without the TV itself.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2014 | 1:12:12 PM
Patentable?
I don't see how these are things that can be patented. The Stylus, maybe, and thats a big maybe. The rest are just common sense use of items that already exist. Its like trying to patent using a cup to hold pens or something.
dkdkdkdkd
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dkdkdkdkd,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/29/2014 | 1:39:01 PM
Dumping Flat Screen TVs
Honestly, I don't see people having any problems dumping their flat screen tvs. They are now more like a commodity and suppliers have a small profit margin on each. An apple tv, one that truly transforms the tv the way apple transformed the phone will be  on everyone's buy list. It will at least be a big hit and all apple products have had the benefit of a cult like following to act as early adopters. 
Midnight
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Midnight,
User Rank: Guru
1/29/2014 | 7:43:02 PM
I can see why they hesitate
Most of the technologies mentioned use patents that are on very unshaky ground. The stylus concept appears to leveraging the same technology used in many capture tablet digitizers. I am not impressed at Apples concept of innovation summed up as, steal prior art and claim as if Apple invented the entire concept. People buy it but it still is plain offensive to any other patent holder being infringed upon. Apple has great marketing and better lawyers, but little technological substance without rebranding. This report is a non-story.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2014 | 9:07:58 PM
Glare problems
Solar-powered devices are interesting but glare is a big problem. I suppose you could charge it via sunlight, you just cant use it in sunlight.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2014 | 11:19:53 PM
Re: Glare problems
@Kristin: This was always a problem for me with those old calculators when I was younger; they purported to be solar-powered, but you couldn't see the darn things in the sunlight.

Still, technology exists now to mitigate that.  The new Kindle Paperwhite boasts that it is far more readable in sunlight than the basic iPad.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2014 | 11:18:45 PM
Apple's weapon to seize power from carriers
The Apple patent I'm most excited about -- above all of these others -- is the one described here.  Put into action, this technology and process would allow for iPhone customers to carrier-shop directly from their iPhones, comparing rates, contracts, and deals/packages all at once in one easy interface -- seizing power away from carriers and putting it in the hands of Apple (indeed, the customer would be billed through Apple's iTunes store instead of via the carrier directly).

Not only would that be great for consumers, but it would be bound to be a huge moneymaker for Apple if made a reality.


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