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(Image: US Patent and Trademark Office)
What is Apple's next great feature or device? You can waterboard Apple execs and they won't tell. We know that Apple is doing something exciting behind the scenes with its research budget growing to $1.1 billion over the last three months. But there's one source of information that can give us some hints at what Apple is thinking: The US Patent and Trademark Office.
Last year alone, Apple was awarded 1,136 patents — good for 22nd place on the top 50 IFI patent list. Other notables include Google, which was just ahead of Apple, with 1,151 patents. BM was the leader, as usual, with 6,478 patents, and Samsung took second place, with 5,081 patents.
With its new and innovative products, Apple believe that it must protect them from competitors, such as Samsung, at all costs. That's why it keeps the patent office busy. Here, we'll look at a dozen recent awards that should give us an idea of what Apple is thinking.
Perhaps the most interesting patent award recently earned by Apple was for a smartphone design that "could include a full wraparound display and have no buttons". Enclosed within "transparent housing", a flexible display panel would be configured to "display content at any portion of the gadget's frame", according to ZDNet's Charlie Osborne. Sounds like a next-generation iPhone.