Apple Granted 36 Patents Today Covering a Wide Range of Key iDevice Features, Functions, UI Elements & Much More
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Is Apple in a Race with HTC for First Liquidmetal Smartphone?

1. Cover, Liquidmetal Related Patent

In April Patently Apple broke the news that Apple had filed a new Liquidmetal patent in Europe that clearly pointed to specific Apple designs under consideration for the new material. Apple pointed to the iPhone and iPad specifically and added that other distinct devices such as a TV monitor were being considered. Today the news has broken that Apple and HTC may in fact be in a race to deliver the first smartphone using Liquidmetal later this year.


Today, DigiTimes is reporting on a wild rumor that claims that HTC is reportedly considering adopting Liquidmetal for its new smartphones in the second half of the year and is set to cooperate with Taiwan-based chassis maker Jabon International for related supply. However, both HTC and Jabon have declined to comment about the rumors.

 

Since Apple has recently signed another 2-year contract with US-based Liquidmetal Intellectual and started hiring talent with chassis manufacturing expertise, the sources speculate that Apple may adopt Liquidmetal for its new products and HTC is trying to release similar products ahead of Apple.

 

Apple's CEO Tim Cook mentioned during a financial conference call last month that new products would be coming to market later this year and throughout 2014. At the moment, banking on one source on something this dramatic is a start, but far from being a sure thing. And if it's taken Apple this long to start revving up their efforts on an iPhone design with Liquidmetal, how on earth is HTC going to start from scratch and get one out the door for Q4?

 

At the end of the day, what are your thoughts on Apple possibly switching their iPhone design from Glass to Liquidmetal in the next 18-24 months?

 

PA - Bar - News Break
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Comments

Selva Raj

Apple filed about 20 patents regarding liquidmetal
Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOqeqpt8ZGA

James

Adam, I don't think Apple would have the legal ownership to use liquid metal in a cross licensing agreement with HTC, nor do I think Apple would have any interest/requirement in doing so. They would simply trade the patents that both parties are infringing, and stop suing one another. At least thats what I'd guess. So Apple wouldn't need to cross license future product designs.

As Jack said, I'd bet more that HTC is throwing around the term "liquid metal" loosely, hoping to gain publicity as a buzzword. But we all know using liquid metal as a buzzword is disingenious to the true potential behind this alloys ability to redefine consumer electronics enclosures. And someone who would use liquid metal as a buzzword is not someone who actually cares deeply about design and advancing the state of the art, its just someone who wants to grab headlines and evoke a mirage of innovation.

We all know that if anyones capable of truly applying this new alloy to consumer design and really squeezing it of its potential, its Jony Ive and his team. Not to knock HTC, they just don't have what it takes to truly pioneer new rules and processes for designing and assembling a new class of enclosure.

Jack Purcher

That's an interesting point, Adam, and one never knows what Apple has up their sleeve to counter Samsung. But I don't think Apple would go to the trouble of gaining exclusive rights, just to "share" them with others.

HTC is hurting right now and although they're gaining sales away from Samsung with their new sexy One smartphone, they need to keep the momentum going to appeal to their base in Taiwan where DigiTimes is from.

DigiTimes reports on a lot of supply chain chatter and you have to take the good and off-beat news as just that. Sometimes out of chatter comes a form of the truth, and so this has some interest.

adam t

Thank you Jack.
Do you think maybe this shared patent Apple/HTC agreement could have something to do with it?
But then again the DigiTimes is not the most reliable source...

Jack Purcher

Yes, according to the original deal, Apple had certain exclusive rights. One part of the agreement stated: ....exclusive license to commercialize such intellectual property in the field of consumer electronic products, as defined in the license agreement."

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2012/04/looking-into-one-of-apples-special-purpose-liquidmetal-projects.html

I don't know what was "defined" in the license agreement. Maybe there was a loop hole. I was surprised to learn that Apple signed a second contract for two years. Did HTC sneak in between deals? What does the second deal cover? There's more questions than answers at the moment.

But like you, I questioned that HTC had what it took to pull if off in the time frame of "this year."

It could also be a term they're just throwing around or that there's a liquidmetal competitor out there that we're not aware of. Microsoft used the term Liquid metal when describing their new Surface tablet.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/06/19/microsoft-surfaces-liquid-metal-is-not-the-same-as-apples-liquidmetal/


In the end, HTC may have used the term loosely to gain attention. With that said, it was reported as such by DigiTimes and we passed that news along. How it actually plays out is another matter.

James

I fail to see how HTC could even be close to readying a liquidmetal chassis, if they're just jumping on the bandwagon after hearing about Apple researching it. Secondly, didn't Apple sign a deal with Liquidmetal that they would have exclusive rights to using the Liquidmetal alloy, IP and patents in the entire consumer electronics field? So unless HTC somehow invented their own proprietary alloy that didn't infringe Liquidmetal's patents, I don't see how HTC could be building anything with it.

adam t

I thought Apple had a patent and exclusivity of this material for electronic devices.

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