iPhone Weakened By Apple’s Hesitation Over Risking New Technology


I look at the impact of  mobile technology and online media.

Original Article Published on Forbes.com

Tucked away in a large stack of Apple patents that were granted today by the US Patents and Trademarks Office is another piece of evidence to suggest that 2017 will see a curved screen iPhone released to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Apple entering the smartphone market. Is that date too late for Apple to make a difference?

The patent (number 9,367,095) is titled ‘Electronic device with wrap around display’ and has a broad description:

“A consumer electronic product includes at least a transparent housing and a flexible display assembly enclosed within the transparent housing. In the described embodiment, the flexible display assembly is configured to present visual content at any portion of the transparent housing.”

It goes on to detail a technique that uses a flexible display lying behind a curved transparent housing. This matches up with previous reports of Apple using flexible display technology inside handsets to create new form factors but also to help with absorbing impact damage. It also ties in with the increasing volume of reports that Apple is looking at both OLED technology and a curved glass display for next year’s iPhone.

Both OLED and curved displays techniques can be found in existing smartphones on the market – notably the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. With Apple expected to wait until 2017 to adopt this technology it may look bright, new and shiny to the faithful fans in the geekerati, but it’s going to look tired and out-of-date when it is revealed in fifteen months time. By that time Samsung will likely have had three flagship models with curved edges, and at least three phablet designs using a similar technique.

Perhaps the most disappointing feature in all of this is the time that Apple is taking to bring new hardware to the market. Although the patent was published today and was filed in April 2015, it is a continuation of patents reaching back to September 2011 (Patent 8,665,236). That’s probably not a surprise when you look at the sketches of the technology which look like an iPod Nano (with a 30-pin dock connector) rather than an iPhone.