Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Published: The mother of all iPhone patents

June 3, 2008: 8:06 AM ET

Last Thursday, a week and a half before the expected unveiling of iPhone version 2.0, Apple (AAPL) published a 371-page patent that describes virtually every aspect of version 1.0 -- and adds a few wrinkles we haven't seen before. You can download it here.

Alden Malley at AppleInsider has done a pretty good job of teasing out the details in the patent that aren't offered in the current iPhone, items that could be taken as a checklist for improvements to look for in the 3G model. Among them:

  • Instant messaging
  • Inline content in Safari, such as Flash and Quicktime movies
  • A dedicated blogging client
  • Java software downloads
  • MMS picture and video messaging
  • Support for voice-activated commands and audio capture.
  • An "optical sensor" on the top center of the device (possibly for videoconferencing)
  • A GPS module for mapping and geo-tagging

The patent application, No. 20080122796, was originally submitted on September 5th, the same day Apple announced the iPod touch.

Although, as Malley notes, Apple is under no obligation to deliver any of the improvements described here, the document does offer hints -- both broad and specific -- about the direction the company is headed.

It also offers a rare glimpse inside Apple's iPhone skunkworks and at the people who work there. Although Steve Jobs is listed first, the filing also lists two dozen Apple employees whose names you rarely hear outside the Cupertino campus. To give credit where credit is due, here they are:

Jobs; Steven P.; (Palo Alto, CA) ; Forstall; Scott; (Mountain View, CA) ; Christie; Greg; (San Jose, CA) ; Lemay; Stephen O.; (San Francisco, CA) ; Herz; Scott; (Santa Clara, CA) ; Van Os; Marcel; (San Francisco, CA) ; Ording; Bas; (San Francisco, CA) ; Novick; Gregory; (Santa Clara, CA) ; Westerman; Wayne C.; (San Francisco, CA) ; Chaudhri; Imran; (San Francisco, CA) ; Coffman; Patrick Lee; (Menlo Park, CA) ; Kocienda; Kenneth; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Ganatra; Nitin K.; (San Jose, CA) ; Anzures; Freddy Allen; (San Francisco, CA) ; Wyld; Jeremy A.; (San Jose, CA) ; Bush; Jeffrey; (San Jose, CA) ; Matas; Michael; (San Francisco, CA) ; Marcos; Paul D.; (Los Altos, CA) ; Pisula; Charles J.; (San Jose, CA) ; King; Virgil Scott; (Mountain View, CA) ; Blumenberg; Chris; (San Francisco, CA) ; Tolmasky; Francisco Ryan; (Cupertino, CA) ; Williamson; Richard; (Los Gatos, CA) ; Boule; Andre M.J.; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Lamiraux; Henri C.; (San Carlos, CA).

Notable absence: Apple VP Tony Fadell, who built the iPod and heads the division that created the iPhone. His name had appeared with Jobs' on earlier iPhone patents.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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