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iPhone assembly rumored begun; Apple faces touchscreen lawsuit

post #1 of 31
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Two separate rumors have Apple ramping up production of its 2009 iPhones, including possible new hardware details. However, the company may have hit a snag as a Taiwanese firm has sued it for allegedly violating a patent for touchscreen input.

2009 iPhone production underway?

If two reports are accurate, Apple is on the verge of producing its updated iPhone range that most anticipate will show at June's Worldwide Developers' Conference.

Taiwan's Commercial Times newspaper on Wednesday cited "component suppliers" who said that local companies have started shipping parts needed to assemble new iPhones. While the publication didn't say what these parts were, its assertion quickly follows a report from DigiTimes which indicated that an American firm, OmniVision, had won an order to ship 3.2-megapixel cameras to Apple for the handsets, indicating that production partly hinges on other countries as well.

Strangely, the sources also claimed that as many as 3 million "old and new" iPhones would ship in the quarter after the new cell phone's introduction. Apple typically ceases production of old models of any product when it starts up new production and usually has enough goods in the supply channel to continue sales until a new model is released.

A different analyst report, however, paints a different picture. Kaufman Bros. researcher Shaw Wu claimed the same day to have heard that Apple will build between 5 million and 6 million all-new iPhones during the summer, or a significant step up from spring estimates.

He also purported to have details of the new models themselves, and suggested that two will exist: one would supposedly have a longer-lived battery and a faster processor, while another would be a basic iPhone meant to appeal on cost. Additionally, he maintained that AT&T is considering tiered data plans that would let customers scale back their service to bring down the minimum subscription from its current $70 per month.

While these production numbers are more consistent with Apple's recent sales performance, recent analyst reports from Wu have had a very mixed track record. Earlier this year, one investors' note inaccurately posited that Apple would introduce both dual- and quad-core iMacs with its next update, though he has occasionally proved more accurate than others in some instances.

Apple slapped with lawsuit over touchscreen tech

Whatever Apple's production plans, the company will have to clear a legal hurdle from Taiwan semiconductor firm Elan Microelectronics. The latter is suing Apple for allegedly infringing on touchscreen patents.

The iPhone, iPod touch and even the MacBook line are using finger positioning technology that Elan had already developed, according to the complaint. The southeast Asian company has already won a related lawsuit against Synaptics, which is best-known for making trackpads as well as earlier forms of the conventional iPod's scroll wheel.

No specific damage claims have been specified in the lawsuit. Likewise, it's also unknown whether Apple can resort to the prior art of earlier trackpads or its existing touchscreen patents to support its case.

Neither of the involved parties has offered to comment.
post #2 of 31
Hm, this company seems to be a bit confused: http://www.emc.com.tw/eng/news_1_1.asp?id=70 says the technologies are different, now they are not?

I see Apple continuing the current 3G model at a lower price point, it still beats everything else on the market and selling it for maybe 99 bucks with a reasonable, tiered data plan would make it a pretty hot item and put the competition under severe pressure. This would also be good news for the new model if it is good enough to be positioned against the 3G at a lower price, then it must be a hell of an update
post #3 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

I see Apple continuing the current 3G model ....and selling it for maybe 99 bucks

WOW, I can't wait 'til June!!! I wonder what else is in store.. OH YES: SNOW LEOPARD!!
post #4 of 31
If you look at what Apple did with the iPod - releasing a second model (the mini) and then eventually expanding it to four models - I can see them following this same pattern with the iPhone, given the similarities. Heck, the iPhone even has a biracial brother - the iPod touch.
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by CU10 View Post

WOW, I can't wait 'til June!!! I wonder what else is in store.. OH YES: SNOW LEOPARD!!

Is there any evidence to suggest that the next iPhone OS X will be Snow Leopard-based? I would have thought that would be the case, but I've read nothing about the Betas being as such.
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post #6 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

If you look at what Apple did with the iPod - releasing a second model (the mini) and then eventually expanding it to four models - I can see them following this same pattern with the iPhone, given the similarities. Heck, the iPhone even has a biracial brother - the iPod touch.

Except the iPod UI scales pretty readily to smaller displays, whereas the iPhone UI doesn't, so I would expect cheaper models to keep the same form factor and just be somewhat less capable.

I could see Apple marketing more or less the existing iPhone at $99, maybe in colors for the "fun and cheap" factor, hopefully offered with a cheaper data plan from AT&T.

That would be a potent market share driver, when a phone as good as the current iPhone (running the new OS) becomes your "commodity" offering and you're free to offer better models, at the current price points.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #7 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Apple slapped with lawsuit over touchscreen tech

Whatever Apple's production plans, the company will have to clear a legal hurdle from Taiwan semiconductor firm Elan Microelectronics. The latter is suing Apple for allegedly infringing on touchscreen patents.

This article is unclear. Why does Apple have to clear a legal hurdle? Do they have to clear the hurdle before a new iPhone/iPod touch goes into production? Please clarify.
post #8 of 31
perhaps Apple will take the minimalist approach and create an iPhone shuffle, with one controler on the end of the earpods.
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post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorotea View Post

This article is unclear. Why does Apple have to clear a legal hurdle? Do they have to clear the hurdle before a new iPhone/iPod touch goes into production? Please clarify.

I think they're just sort of throwing several recent news items into proximity, and making it sound like one hinges on the other.

There's no chance in hell that this lawsuit is going to delay the release of the new iPhone.
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post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post

perhaps Apple will take the minimalist approach and create an iPhone shuffle, with one controler on the end of the earpods.

Yeah, I see what you mean... One wich called a random number from your address book... :P
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I think they're just sort of throwing several recent news items into proximity, and making it sound like one hinges on the other.

There's no chance in hell that this lawsuit is going to delay the release of the new iPhone.

Agreed. They won't stop production.

("There is panic in the streets as yet another plaintiff sues Apple over somesuch technology!" I don't think so.)
post #12 of 31
OK, mark your calendars. Every time Shaw Wu makes a claim, I want it noted and tracked to expose him as the huckster he has shown himself to be.

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GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

OK, mark your calendars. Every time Shaw Wu makes a claim, I want it noted and tracked to expose him as the huckster he has shown himself to be.

I second this motion! Shaw Wu is a joke.
post #14 of 31
YES. New product class. Watch this follow the iPod's product plans.
post #15 of 31
I am not sure that the Taiwanese company "won" against Synaptics. According to the New York Times today:

"Elan said it won a preliminary court injunction against a U.S.-based rival, Synaptics, in a dispute over one of the patents mentioned in the Apple lawsuit, after a suit was filed in 2006 by a unit that was a subsidiary at the time. Synaptics countersued.

Both actions were dismissed last year after the two companies reached a cross-licensing agreement, according to a statement on Elans Web site."


Perhaps a lawyer in the audience can deconstruct this for us?
post #16 of 31
I can see current iPhone 3G being changed slightly (perhaps different colors) and remain with same price points, while the new iPhone Pro or HD or video, will be little bit more.

I just can't see iPhone cheaper than iPod Nano, just not happening.
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post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I think they're just sort of throwing several recent news items into proximity, and making it sound like one hinges on the other.

There's no chance in hell that this lawsuit is going to delay the release of the new iPhone.

I see no dependence either.

The lawsuit does look legitimate though. I'm not saying the claim is valid or not (I have no idea), but it's definitely not spurious like most of the crap we've been seeing.

They didn't file in Texas, for one thing. Also, this is a real company that makes real products, not some lawyer's IP shop.
post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

Hm, this company seems to be a bit confused: http://www.emc.com.tw/eng/news_1_1.asp?id=70 says the technologies are different, now they are not?

Thanks for pointing this out. Reading the article makes me think that ELAN might be suing as a way to get a cross-licensing agreement with Apple. ELAN is so defensive in its press release that it makes me think they might be worried. Of course it's totally just a guess on my part.
post #19 of 31
'iPhone assembly rumored begun'?

'English grammar rumored mangled'
post #20 of 31
@ Solipsism

Most of the changes in Snow Leopard are multi-core focused, eg. blocks, Grand Central. They are focused not on features that the iPhone would benefit from.

Thus Apple didn't add any Snow Leopard features in.

You speak of OS's like they are worlds apart, and must be treated differently. In OS development, however, Apple can pick and choose any features to bring across, and any features it doesn't want to.

In this case Apple brought nothing from Snow Leopard at this time. When multi-cored ARM processors arrive, however, they might.
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabrice View Post

Yeah, I see what you mean... One wich called a random number from your address book... :P

One click to select the menu
Two clicks plus a long hold to get hte ipod to read out all contacts, and then press the button three times to dial
You will have to use the button to recreate a version of Macarena to tell it to hang up
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post #22 of 31
"two will exist: one would supposedly have a longer-lived battery and a faster processor, while another would be a basic iPhone meant to appeal on cost."

Ah yes... the iPhone Poor(TM) and iPhone Rich(TM)
post #23 of 31
It should be interesting to see how much more powerful Apple will be making these new iPhones, I am definitely going to upgrade from my current 3G once these new devices are launched.
post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post

Thanks for pointing this out. Reading the article makes me think that ELAN might be suing as a way to get a cross-licensing agreement with Apple. ELAN is so defensive in its press release that it makes me think they might be worried. Of course it's totally just a guess on my part.

ELAN's statement says they own the rights for detection of finger position? Isn't detection of finger position a given for any touch screen ever made? I'm just curious when they filed this patent, when it was granted, & which part of the patent they are claiming Apple infringed?

Everyone just seems to be rehashing small pieces of other articles out there, anyone actually doing the investigative journalism themselves? Little more on that please?
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

"two will exist: one would supposedly have a longer-lived battery and a faster processor, while another would be a basic iPhone meant to appeal on cost."

Ah yes... the iPhone Poor(TM) and iPhone Rich(TM)

khm... which of them is supposed to have better battery? what price will attract more customers?

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post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan.rnn01 View Post

khm... which of them is supposed to have better battery?

I think better battery is a bit fuzzy. If one has a faster CPU (and hopefully double the RAM) then it would need a bigger battery just to last as long as the slower model. Hopefully they have one that considerably longer, but I don't think that will be possible with Apple's preference to go more battery duration if it can fit into the same size space or smaller. The iPhone last a long time for such a device, but I find it so useful and constantly mulitasking with it that a day will easily use a battery charge and then some.
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post #27 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I think better battery is a bit fuzzy. If one has a faster CPU (and hopefully double the RAM) then it would need a bigger battery just to last as long as the slower model. Hopefully they have one that considerably longer, but I don't think that will be possible with Apple's preference to go more battery duration if it can fit into the same size space or smaller. The iPhone last a long time for such a device, but I find it so useful and constantly mulitasking with it that a day will easily use a battery charge and then some.

Technically that's irreproachable. I just wondered what marketing name would be better for iPhone with longer-lasting battery... iPhone Rich or iPhone People

I become more and more inclined to blame Infineon. Modest battery life because of 3G chips and modest reception capabilities together suggest that...

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People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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post #28 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan.rnn01 View Post

I just wondered what marketing name would be better for iPhone with longer-lasting battery... iPhone Rich or iPhone People?

If they do sell an iPhone with the current CPU and RAM setup then it will not be getting video, regardless if it gets a 3.2Mpx camera with better lens and so on. Perhaps this mythical, higher -end device will be called iPhone Video.
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post #29 of 31
I think the one reason why AppleInsider included the lawsuit in this thread is that Elan is seeking an injuction against Apple that would stop the sales of all multitouch technology until this lawsuit is resolved. On the off hand that such an injuction would be approved, Apple couldn't import the next iPhone in to the US.

And yes, even with major products this has happened before most notably with the Broadcom and Qualcomm. In that case, products in the US could still be sold but no further new chipsets could be imported. I forget who it eventually resolved itself though.

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post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

If they do sell an iPhone with the current CPU and RAM setup then it will not be getting video, regardless if it gets a 3.2Mpx camera with better lens and so on. Perhaps this mythical, higher -end device will be called iPhone Video.

Too humble for Apple imo. Video capturing is just one of the huge batch of new features. Were I Apple I'd call it iPhone ADMM (I phone and do much more)

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post #31 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezekiahb View Post

ELAN's statement says they own the rights for detection of finger position? Isn't detection of finger position a given for any touch screen ever made? I'm just curious when they filed this patent, when it was granted, & which part of the patent they are claiming Apple infringed?...

Finger detection would be the core of the issue and would be different on each and every device and platform. Exactly how the fingers are detected, what technologies are used, and the algorithms used to determine how many fingers, where they are placed, how and whether they are moving, and particularly what the intent of the fingers are, is pretty much the whole game.

If ELAN is saying they have a patent on detecting finger position, the only way I can interpret that is that they are saying they patented the same method that Apple uses, first. Seems doubtful to me considering the background and history of Apple's patents on this. It would mean that someone at this company that never actually created a multi-touch product, working in complete isolation, (at least 8 years ago!), created the exact same way of detecting fingers that FingerWorks (who researched the thing for years), did. Not impossible, but really unlikely.

I would guess that this is actually a really general patent of the variety where it simply says something like: "we patent the idea of fingers being detected on touch screens," or some such BS. The implication being that it covers Apple's (and everyone else's) specific patents on implementation, because they patented the general idea of doing this first even though they have no implementation and no implementation details.
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