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March 2014

Apple Invents Lightning with Unique Identifiers to Stop Fake Products from Working with iDevices

1. Cover Apple, detecting counterfeit serial numbers on accessories
While there have been reports over the years about faulty iPhone chargers exploding, we know that in most cases, if not all, that these incidents were caused by counterfeit chargers. One of the new features coming to Apple's Lightning connector, if not already in use, is a built-in method of being able to detect fraudulent counterfeit products and refuse to work with them. Apple states that "it is desirable to ensure that products that are part of a given ecosystem are manufactured to the standards expected of the products. Knock-off, counterfeit and fraudulently manufactured accessories may not be manufactured to the stringent standards expected of the ecosystem and thus may not work properly or may even cause damage to a host portable electronic device." Apple's invention is about including a unique identifier or serial number that is received by the iDevice upon connection with the accessory. It's performed automatically.

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Apple Invents new Dock with a Flexible Lightning Connector

1. Apple flexible lightning connecting dock
Last May Apple first introduced a new patent application for an iPhone and iPod dock designed to support their new lightning port. Today, the U.S. Patent Office published one of Apple's patent applications that reveal their possible new dock may also come equipped with a new flexible lightning connector base that is more durable and easier to use. Here's to hoping that Apple will be able to not only design this new dock but also get it out to market soon. Not everything has to take forever. Apple introduced their lighting port with the iPhone 5 back in 2012 and they should have had a new dock available at that time. Then again, perhaps Apple is still waiting to see how the European consumer protection committee will rule before committing to this product. Only time will tell. Update March 14, 2014: Europe Parliament rules for common charger using micro-USB.  

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Apple Reveals New Camera Lens Attachment System for iDevices

1. Cover - Apple camera lens accessory & Mechanisms patent
Apple began to explore methods of adding camera lens accessories to iDevices in September 2010. The initial project was quite rudimentary and un-Apple-like to say the least, but then again, all projects need a basic starting point. Apple's R&D team apparently put this project on hold until they were able to come up with a more advanced magnetics based camera lens mechanism that they revealed this past January. Today in Apple's third patent application for camera accessories they explore alternative attachment methods and mechanisms. As noted above in our cover graphic, Apple's engineers present the new camera lens attachment on what appears to be an iPod touch. With Apple's iPod sales dropping every quarter, giving consumers the ability to add new zoom and wide angle camera lenses and filters to it could give this product segment a boost. Of course eventually, the system will spill over to all iDevices. It's a great idea. All we need now is for Apple to actually deliver it.

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Apple Reveals a Component for their Future Wristband Computer

1. Cover - New wrist band pedometer
When Apple's late CEO Steve Jobs introduced the revolutionary iPhone back in 2007, he proudly announced that it was protected by over 200 patents. The thing was that there was never a single knockout patent filing that covered the iPhone in its totality at one point in time. It was painfully drawn out of several years, piece by piece. Flashing forward to last February, Apple revealed a stunning wristband computer concept that could double as a next generation smartwatch. That patent application provided us with a grand overview of this next generation device. Today, Apple provides us with one of the first installments that might be found in their future device. Today's patent application details a next generation pedometer step detection system for a wrist related device.

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United Airline to Intro In-Flight Movie Service Starting in April Exclusively for Apple iDevices

1A United service for Apple iDevices on iOS 7 exclusively
Starting this April, United Airlines will roll out a new personal device entertainment system onboard select aircraft for Apple's iPhone and iPad running iOS 7 exclusively at launch time. With the new service United Airline customers will be able to choose from over 150 movies and nearly 200 TV shows and watch them free of charge.

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China Labor Watch & Green America Push Apple to stop using Benzene in the Manufacturing of Apple Products

10. News
According to a new Guardian Press report, Green America and China Labor Watch apparently held a "Bad Apple" press conference earlier today in New York to outline what they claim were Apple's failings in electronics manufacturing safety and what could be done about it. It was also to explain how individuals could get involved in "nudging" Apple into adopting safer chemical procedures in its factories.

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Apple Struggles to Find their Footing in India

10. News
As early as March 2013 Apple made it clear that they wanted to triple their retail footprint in India. Later that year, news emerged that Apple was working with more local retailers to open up new retail spaces like "shop-in-shop" or "store-in-store" displays that are found today at Best Buy and other stores throughout Canada and the U.S. To push that initiative, Apple pushed aggressively with iPhone 4S pricing to accelerate iPhone sales in India. Apple recognizes that India is going to be a key future market and has been lobbying the Indian government for years to allow them to open their own Apple Stores and buildings like they have around the world. However, thus far that endeavor has been nothing more than an exercise of futility. Today, news from India states that Apple is at it again with yet another marketing strategy for this key market.

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Apple's CarPlay is set to lead the OS Platform War for the Car

1. cover Infotainment OS market report
At the top of the month Apple's CarPlay made a big splash at Geneva's International Motor Show with car companies like Volvo, Ferrari and Mercedes. Apple's CarPlay got off to a very quick start for 2014 ahead of the Open Automotive Alliance that will be supporting Android sometime over the next year. Why is this market so important? It's simple: The new infotainment system market will be a big as the PC market was back in 1999 by 2020 – and Apple has wasted no time in taking an early lead.

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Florian Mueller on Apple: I wonder if Apple has lost its Mind

50. Patently Legal
In FOSS Patents latest legal report, he notes that "Apple's damages theory for the trial that will begin on March 31 is an objective insanity, and I say so even though Judge Koh allowed Apple to present it to the jury. Mueller further stated in his recent post that he faces the first situation in which he doesn't merely disagree with Apple but is wondering whether or not it has "lost its mind."

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ZiiLabs (Formerly 3DLabs) Sues Apple & Samsung for Patent Infringement

50. Patently Legal
Today, ZiiLabs Inc., Ltd. (formerly known as 3DLabs Inc., Ltd) announced that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung and Apple. The lawsuit alleges that certain products of Samsung (including various Galaxy phones and tablets, and laptops) and Apple (including various ranges of the iPhone and iPad, iMac and MacBook Pro) infringe a number of ZiiLabs patents.

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Should Apple Consider Celebrity Voice Options for Siri

1. cover - Scarlett Johansson in the Movie Help plays the voice of a futuristic Digital Assistant - Copy
While many Apple fans enjoy the current voice of Siri, others would prefer the voice of Scarlett Johansson who is currently starring in the movie "Her." Johansson plays the voice of the futuristic and highly advanced digital assistant called Samantha. I don't know about you, but I think many would spend more time with Siri if there was a playful voice on the other end. The late Steve Jobs pioneered the use of "big celebrity" voices for Pixar Films and all adults fell in love with that angle to animated films. While it'll take another 20 years for Siri to be as advanced as the digital assistant in the Movie her, Apple already has two voices for Siri and so tapping into celebrity voices with different personalities and attitudes could be fun. If Apple won't do it, I'm sure that Apple's competitors will try to make this happen. If the idea was one of the game-changing aspects to Pixar films, I think it would be fun for our iDevices too. It's a trend that could catch on very quickly. The only question is, how long will it take to make this a realistic iDevice option. Only time will tell.

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Apple Granted 25 Patents Today Covering Siri, Smart Retail Store Packaging, Multitouch and Touch Screen Camera Functionality

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 25 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover a second win for Apple's Siri this year, future smart retail packaging with wireless connectivity, another multitouch invention and iDevice touch screen camera functionality. We wrap-up our report as usual with a full listing of the granted patents issued to Apple today that we didn't individually highlight.

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TSMC Ahead of Schedule on Apple's A8 Production

10A News - Rumor

In response to yesterday's ZDNet Korea report about Samsung signing a manufacturing agreement to ramp up production for Apple's next generation A8 processor, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has confirmed that its 20nm wafer starts were delayed recently due to a specification issue of materials used in its CMP (chemical mechanical planarization) process. The issue has been resolved, and no shipments will be delayed, said the wafer foundry house. In fact, TSMC is currently ahead of Schedule producing Apple's next generation A8 processor.

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Google to Soon Release Developer Kit for Wearable Devices & Launch a Google Watch this June

10. News
It was reported on yesterday that Google executive Sundar Pichai told the South by Southwest conference Sunday that the company plans to release in two weeks a software development kit based on Android for makers of wearable devices, such as smartwatches.
Google plans to release its own smartwatch, which will be manufactured by LG Electronics.

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Apple Saved the Sapphire Industry and will transform it in 2014

10. News
At the beginning of the month we reported that Apple's CEO had recently commented that the speculation surrounding Apple's possible use for the super-hard sapphire being produced in their new Arizona plant was to produce scratch-resistant screens for future iPhones was wrong. According to Cook, their Arizona facility was for a "secret project" that he couldn't talk about. Over the weekend we posted another report about new super bright nano-dot coatings for sapphire substrates coming to light in Japan last week that could double the brightness of LED backlights and more. Today we've learnt that there's a new study being published on March 21 discussing Apple's move into Sapphire. The report claims that Apple saved the sapphire industry in 2013 and will transform it in 2014.

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CrucialTec to Introduce Paradigm Shift in Fingerprint Scanners

10. News
While acknowledging that the biometrics trend on smartphones was started by Apple with their iPhone 5S, the CEO of CrucialTec Charles Ahn stated in a new Korean report that his company will be introducing a new touch screen panel embedded with fingerprint sensors, which will present a new paradigm for the smartphone touch panel market. Ahn warned against those who may attempt to infringe on its touch panel and fingerprint technology patents, saying CrucialTec was prepared to respond aggressively. Ahn added that "We have been beefing up our legal team to take action against any attempt to steal our technologies."

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Apple Files for True Tone Trademark in China

1. Cover - True Tone - TM Apple
Apple has filed for the trademark of "True Tone" in Hong Kong China. The trademark pertains to the new iPhone 5S camera flash supporting the backside iSight camera. According to the document, Apple's priority filing for this trademark was made in Jamaica. The trademark seeks protection for an "optical apparatus, namely camera flashes." Update March 11, 2014 2:15 AM MST with U.S. TM Info.

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New Super Bright Nano-Dot Coatings for Sapphire Substrates came to light in Japan this Week

10. News
A Japanese company by the name of Oji has developed the fabrication technology of patterned sapphire substrates (PSS) for LEDs which improves the performance of front luminance of LEDs by more than double compared to that of LEDs with non-structured sapphire substrate, by applying the technique of precise coating with fine particles. The technology will come to market in 2016. Some of the applications for this material include LED backlighting, a means of providing large displays with a way of increasing the number of colors it can display, car lighting, military applications and much more. Whether this technology will ever be used by Apple in future products is unknown at this time. However, the benefits of it just might catch Apple's R&D team's interest enough to get them to do a little more investigating into how this could apply to future sapphire applications that they may have in mind.

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Apple Files Patent in Europe for Single Contact Scaling Gesture

30. Patent Application
On March 02 we posted a report titled "Samsung Invents Workaround to Apple's Pinch-to-Zoom Patent." In that report we presented Samsung's proposed single movement gesture that would replace the traditional two-finger pinch-to-zoom feature that they copied from Apple. Samsung was found guilty of patent infringement on that very feature, as we noted in last week's report. Today, we discovered a new Apple patent that was published in Europe on Thursday that introduces us to a new single-gesture as well. The gesture will be able to perform zooming functions as well as other commands for those wanting to operate their iPhones using only one hand.

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Fast Follower Samsung introduces new Music Streaming Service

1A. Milk Music, Samsung music streaming service
Prior to the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona we revealed that Samsung had applied for three trademarks relating to Milk Music, a new music streaming service. On Friday, Samsung launched their new music streaming with that branding. Apple introduced iTunes Radio at their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last June and launched the new service on September 18, 2013, the same day as iOS 7. It was inevitable that the Fast Follower we know as Samsung would introduce such a service quickly behind Apple.

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iPhone Subscriber Rate in U.S. up 7.3% Over Android Since 2012

10. News
According to comScore's latest report on key trends in the U.S. smartphone industry during the three month average period ending January 2014, Apple ranked as the top smartphone manufacturer with 41.6 percent OEM market share.

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Monument to Steve Jobs Found in an Inner Mongolian Ghost City

10. News
No matter if you liked the late CEO Steve Jobs or not, his vision for capturing the imagination of the public was undeniable. Apple's revolutionary iPhone followed quickly by the insanely popular iPad rocked markets around the world. His influence even reached one of the strangest faraway places imaginable: Inner Mongolia. A new monument was recently discovered in a ghost city.

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Google Stabs Intel in the Back over New Dual OS Platform

10A News - Rumor
We've been reporting on many of Intel's annual events over past several years now. We noted as far back as 2010 that Intel was working with and supporting alternative platforms such as Linux, Android, Chrome and MeeGo. Working with Windows alone hadn't done Intel any favors over the past several years as PC's are sharply in decline due to a lack of innovation against devices like Apple's iPad. Specifically in January of this year, Intel went all-out to announce the Dual OS Intel Platform. Intel went out of their way to show their support for Android in the enterprise with software called "Intel Device Protection Technology," that would deal with Android's terrible security issues that we noted in a report that we posted yesterday. Intel's support for Android was a major move. Yet now that CES is long gone and an actual product supporting the dual OS platform is ready to roll out, Google isn't so keen on sharing Android with Windows on a single platform any longer. They apparently fear that sharing space with Windows on future Intel products could hinder their current market momentum. Sounds like another back-stabbing move by Google to me. Their first such move was when Eric Schmidt sat on Apple's board of directors prior to the release of the iPhone, only to turn around and reveal that they were working on Android all the while that Schmidt sat on Apple's board.

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Samsung Escalates Patent Arms Race with Apple in Europe

10. News
One of the latest signs that there's an escalating "patent arms race" between Apple and Samsung is that Samsung set a record in 2013 by filing more than 10 times as many European patents as their rival Apple. They were the number one patent filer in Europe with 2,800 patent applications. Google wasn't far behind with 2,200 applications whereas Apple dropped down to being number 50 on the top 100 patent filers in 2013.

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