Some time ago, I discovered that Apple has not always been the patent-crazy corporation it is today; at one point in time, the company thought of patents last instead of first. Steve Jobs was manipulated in the industry by a company, and after this situation, decided that he would never be defeated or exploited ever again. It was after a litigation loss that Jobs decided neither he nor Apple would ever be manipulated again. The patent-crazy company we know today did not start that way; legal protection was the motivation behind the company’s turn to patents as a form of invention protection.
This week saw Apple receives two patents, one being a patent of ownership for the invention of the fourth-generation iPod Touch. According to Sarah Silbert of Engadget, Steve Jobs played a hand in the fourth-generation device’s creation and was credited as the inventor. The fourth-generation Touch, as opposed to the first three devices, was noted for the implementation of both front-facing and rear-facing cameras – a standard that many today assume is commonplace for any wireless device. Apple designed the iPod Touch 4G back in 2010 but filed a patent last year (August 2011) with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The fourth-generation iPod Touch is considered by many to be the most inexpensive form of wireless communication available. It is a smaller version of the iPhone 4 or 4S, for example (it lacks cellular parts since it is not an iPhone), but mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) such as FreedomPop have decided to use the device for all its worth.
Last but not least, Apple received another patent this Christmas week: a patent for a SIM-card ejector. The patent labels the invention a “mini-SIM connector,” but the device is designed to prevent users from placing their SIM card into a phone in an incorrect manner; in other words, if Apple gets its way, you will not need to worry in the future about having your SIM card getting “stuck” in your phone or whether or not your SIM card will actually make it out of your phone when you attempt to pull it out. The device, of course, is designed to help customers have an easier time installing and removing SIM cards. The patent also calls for a SIM ejector that can be pressed to release a SIM card from a smartphone. The manual opening of the SIM tray will no longer be needed; instead, you simply press a button to eject the SIM and the operation will push the SIM out of the phone.
An interesting note about the SIM-card ejector patent is that it does not mention the “nano” SIM that has come to characterize Apple’s new iPhone line. The nano-SIM was merely a rumor until Apple placed the tiny SIM into its new iPhone just three months ago. Now, the nano-SIM will turn standard for all Apple’s iPhones. Some part of me, though, hopes that Apple will return to its once-micro-SIM setup. As an owner of the iPhone 4S, I think the micro-SIM allows customers the option to go back and forth between smartphones. Apple’s nano-SIM, unless the smartphone market follows, will make it difficult for Apple’s prepaid customers who want to use their prepaid SIM in other smartphone models.