Evaluate Apple from the perspective of patents, details make excellence

Some media exposed the new spy photos of the iPhone 12, saying that the “most failed design” Liu Haiping was finally killed. Like all previous iPhone exposures before the launch, it is unknown whether it is true or false.

With at least eight months to go before Apple’s fall launch event, the news about the iPhone 12 is already overwhelming. As of 16:00 on January 20, Baidu has collected more than 410,000 pieces of information about the iPhone 12. This is a treatment that any unlisted product has never received.


Evaluate Apple from the perspective of patents, details make excellence

From Jobs to Cook, from mac book to iPhone, iWatch, iPod… Apple has always assumed the role of a vane in the era of mobile intelligence. That hasn’t changed even as iPhone global shipments have slipped to third place. What innovations has Apple made in the past? What is Apple doing now? What might change in future iPhones? Similar problems emerge in an endless stream on Zhihu, and “high-rise buildings” have been built. The curiosity about Apple’s various series of products and Apple is enduring.

Some attribute Jobs’s secret to his “almost perverted attention to detail.” The same holds true for Apple. Judging from Apple’s global patent data in the past three years provided by Wisdom Buds, Apple is more concerned with “optimization” than “creation”.

Not the most patented, but Apple may be the most detail-oriented

A person skilled in the related field told Jiwei.com that Apple’s current technology and their future patents are not very advanced if they have an in-depth understanding of Apple. Apple pay is many years behind Google, Apple watch came out later than Samsung, domestic 5G mobile phones have been out for more than half a year, and the iPhone 5G version is still living in legend… There have been many media reports about Apple’s technological lag.

In the latest patent report released by the US Commercial Patent Database (IFI Claims), Apple ranked 27th by the number of patent families. In this ranking, which can reflect innovation to a certain extent, Samsung, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, LG, Qualcomm, Sony, Nokia and even Ericsson, a large number of competing companies in different fields are ranked in front of it. But why do people still pay more attention to and even look forward to Apple’s “black technology”?

Combing all the patents published by Apple in the past three years, Jiweiwang found that the highest proportion is not “black technology”, but various optimization functions. Excluding meaningless words and too professional expressions, extract keywords from Apple’s patent titles and draw them into a word cloud. The effect is as shown above. Among Apple’s 9,868 published patent data, the keyword with the highest frequency is “user interface”, which appears 1,420 times. Many Apple users have said, “I don’t know why, Apple’s interface just looks very comfortable.” Maybe, that’s why.

Both software and hardware, Apple is essentially a consumer product company

Jobs said that Apple is a software company. Emphasize that it is not a company that provides a high-quality hardware product and everything will be fine. In fact, Wisdom Bud data shows that among the patents Apple has obtained in the past three years, both software and hardware are emphasized. Apple will pay attention to all kinds of functions, large and small, such as interface, interaction, multimedia, sports health, and identity authentication that software manufacturers will pay attention to. It will not ignore the touch, portable devices, displays, batteries and other related components that hardware manufacturers will pay attention to. Moreover, judging from the number of related patents, there is no obvious bias between the two.

Wei Shaojun, director of the Institute of Microelectronics at Tsinghua University, often said: “Chip and software are inseparable. Software without chips is a ghost, and chips without software are walking dead.” The key is how to better integrate software and hardware. combine together. The power of Apple is that it does just that.

Tim Cook once said that Apple is not actually a technology company. Although Apple has a lot of patents in the field of technology and has developed its own A-series processors, Apple is actually a consumer product company. Apple’s purpose and purpose are to serve consumers.

Therefore, it is very clear that consumers want hardware and software products, not an iPhone that can’t be broken.

The research and development of 5G may not be done early enough, but the accumulation of technology has not fallen behind

Of course, attention to detail optimization does not mean that Apple does not pay attention to new technology research and development. Taking the most popular technology 5G as an example, according to the data of Wisdom Buds, the number of keywords including 5G and NR in the patents obtained by Apple in the world in the past three years has increased year by year (Note: This part of the statistics is only the search results of some keywords) , for incomplete data). This trend is particularly striking when combined with the overall data trend.

You must know that it takes a certain amount of time for a patent to go from application to publication, and this cycle is not consistent around the world. Wang Minsheng, a partner of Shenzhen Guardian Intellectual Property Service Company, said that according to my country’s Patent Law, it takes 18 months for a patent application to be published. For companies that specifically require advance disclosure, this cycle can be shortened to 6 months. The average period from patent application to publication in the United States in 2018 was 16 months.

That is to say, the patent data we can collect today is not all data, and many patents in 2018 and 2019 have not been published. Therefore, the decrease in the number of Apple’s patents in the past three years does not explain any problems, but in the case of incomplete data in the past two years, 5G-related technologies still show a trend of increasing year by year, which is enough to show that Apple’s layout of 5G technology this year is progressing. faster and faster.

We usually call technological progress “iterative,” meaning that new technology builds on old technology. The same goes for 5G technology. We have seen that Apple’s 5G and NR-related patents in the past three years seem to have only begun to appear on a large scale in the past two years, but more basic patents such as LTE and millimeter wave (Note: the above statistics are only some keyword search results, not non- Complete data), Apple has already had a layout. Wisdom Bud data shows that in the past three years, the total number of patents related to Apple’s communications has reached 1,198, second only to the user interface.

Focus on emerging markets, patent global layout

From a geographical point of view, the United States and China are the main application places for Apple’s patents in the past three years. Apple has even more patents filed in China than in the whole of Europe. In mainland China alone, Apple has disclosed 1,146 patents in the past three years, while the number in Europe has just reached 574. You know, from the perspective of Apple’s net sales in various regions in recent years, Europe is Apple’s second-largest sales place outside the United States, and Greater China is after Europe.

Another phenomenon worthy of attention is that in the past three years, in most regions, including the United States, the proportion of Apple’s patent applications has been decreasing year by year, and regions such as India and Australia have increased significantly year by year. This may be a reflection of Apple’s changes in the global market layout.

The U.S. and Asia-Pacific excluding China and Japan were the only regions where Apple’s sales rose over the past year. India, which is in the Asia-Pacific region, is undoubtedly one of Apple’s most valued regions. As early as 2017, when Apple was rumored to build an iPhone SE production line in India, in an interview with the media, the Indian Minister of Information once said that Apple had plans to relocate all production lines to India. Although according to the recent news, this plan has been frustrated, but this shows that Apple attaches great importance to the Indian market.

In the era of patent competition, patent layout is often the vanguard of market layout. From this, despite the setback, Apple’s intention to enter the Indian market has not been affected.

write at the end

Tim Cook said: “Innovation is not necessarily change, innovation is actually making something better.” This is the concept of Apple’s products, and it is also the concept of innovation and patents.

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