Apple Files For New Multiple "Persona" Patent For Use In PDAs
This is not an Apple PDA?
For a company that swears it has no plans on releasing or pursuing a PDA, Apple has a funny way of showing it. And "it" looks something like this:
The above device can be found in a patent application, 20030107606, filed by Apple on November 26, 2002, and published on June 12, 2003; it is a continuation of an application filed on August 7, 1995. The application concerns itself with multiple personas for mobile pen-based devices. The abstract details:
In short, the invention seems to let you, or others, operate your PDA as a different, or multiple, persona(s). This is a sort of multi-user environment for PDA users, which would allow John or Jane Doe to use the PDA for different types of transactions as their own person under their own multiple identities, with the user environment reflecting their own preferences.
[Authors Addendum: The following excerpt from the patent has been added just to clarify that the patent deals with multiple roles for an individual PDA owner, and/or for multiple discrete users of the PDA. In other words, John Doe might conduct a transaction as a private person, and another as a representative of the company for which he works; while his wife Jane may take the PDA and also use various personas for conducting different transactions:
However, what is interesting is that the mobile device in the patent application is not an iPod. The patent application employs a Newton style PDA throughout, which, considering the invention relates to pen-based computing, is not too surprising.
From the "Background of the Invention" section of the patent application:
Although this far from predicts the imminent return of the Newton, one does wonder why Apple would be developing technology for PDA style devices, re-filing patent applications only to not pursue the making or release of a product in the area at some future time. True, such basically fruitless R&D is not uncommon. This especially holds as the application seems to be a continuation of an older application; all this really suggests is that Apple is just trying to milk out another patent issuance after sinking money into the development and prosecution of the patent application thus far. Still, it is also every bit as common, if not more so in this economy, for companies to abandon patent applications when they are no longer pursuing a product release strategy.
To me, it seems natural to slap a touch sensitive and larger screen onto the iPod and integrate some on-the-fly, pen-input functions. However, Apple has repeatedly proclaimed that it is not pursuing the PDA market. Just ignore the fact that the iPod handles contact and calendar information with aplomb. You will also have to ignore that Apple has gone back on its promises on its product strategies on numerous occasions; for instance, after its latest proclamation announcing the death of the CRT, Apple followed up with the release of the CRT based eMac. All of which makes one wonder if Steve Jobs is a big fan of the Eagles -- at what temperature does hell freeze over in Cupertino?