Why Apple's Seemingly Minor Move Has PC Makers Terrified

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It's quite likely that you missed an Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) storyline at the end of June, or that you saw it and brushed it aside like I did, believing it to be inconsequential.

Last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application that the Mac maker has filed for, detailing a multi-function input port that could merge a USB port and SD card slot into one. Apple originally applied for the patent in December 2011, and it has yet to be awarded. One of the primary benefits of merging the two ports would be to facilitate even thinner designs.

Consumer preferences are quickly shifting to the thin-and-light laptop segment, an area that NPD says that the MacBook Air dominates with 56% market share. This patent application might not seem like a game-changer, but DIGITIMES believes that rival Ultrabook makers competing in the market for thin and light laptops are worried that the move would give Apple another leg up. With as thin as laptops have become, every millimeter counts; a combined input port could save 12 to 13 millimeters in external designs.

The possible move is similar to another seemingly minor detail that's arguably underappreciated: Apple's MagSafe power adaptors. The magnetic power cord was unveiled in 2006 as an added convenience, reducing the risk that people would trip on cords and laptops would crash into floors. Apple also patented the connector, which is why rivals still can't use it. Microsoft Surface uses a magnetic power cord, with the big difference being that Microsoft's version carries data along with power. Microsoft has applied for a patent of its own.

Alone, these are all minor details that most PC vendors have overlooked. Combined, they offer conveniences that give Apple an advantage. Rivals already have to watch out for Apple's MacBook Air design patent, which covers the overall wedge look. Even though Apple isn't immune to the PC market's broad weakness right now, it's still got some tricks up its sleeves.

Even though Apple has a long list of patented features, the company has never been afraid to crush its previous successes. Yet that self-cannibalization has never hurt the company. Quite the contrary, Apple destroys its greatest products quite profitably. Read through Apple's extensive history of cannibalizing its own products and how that keeps it at the forefront of evolving consumer trends by clicking here.


Read/Post Comments (13) | Recommend This Article (12)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 7:10 PM, AllTheNasties wrote:

    This is the brilliance of Apple. They put the extra research into the tiny things that users will either think are neat or are time/effort reducing. Once you use an Apple device for a while, you begin to take those little things for granted, not to mention that everything else seems to lose any "coolness" factor due to their lack of features that are just fun. Let's be frank, Siri isn't really that helpful or convenient to use, but it's awfully cool and entertaining. Just it's presence seems to make everything else appear a step behind.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 7:41 PM, webguy76 wrote:

    @ AllTheNasties

    I don't think your "cool" because you use Apple products. Maybe at one time people did, but we don't care anymore. This is the major downfall for Apple; the people that think they are "cool" because they use an Apple product. You act like you are better than everyone else, like you did something to deserve the right to use an iPhone or iPad. You did nothing to deserve the right to use the product, there was no entrance exam, and you are not smarter than someone who chooses to use a PC product, and you did not design the product. I just as easily could have bought an iPhone instead of the S3 yet I CHOSE to buy the S3. You go ahead thinking that your "cool" at the coffee shops using Apple products, nobody cares anymore. Good luck with all of the restrictions Apple places on their products, I am happy with mine.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 7:44 PM, VegasSmitty wrote:

    The Apple fad is over. Fanboys are crying in the streets!

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 8:15 PM, inn8 wrote:

    Hey webguy76,

    Appearing to be "cool" seems so important to you that it limits your choices. Kinda sad.

    Cool people don't need to "look" cool.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 8:16 PM, KMAAMK wrote:

    I wouldn't hold my breath about it going away all that soon. Ever type a term paper on a cell phone or tablet?

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 8:31 PM, webguy76 wrote:

    @ inn8

    So your saying that your cool because you use Apple products?

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 10:08 PM, goofyboob wrote:

    Hey webguy76,

    Want to be 'cool?' Learn the language. I don't care what kind of device platform you use. Your (yes, the same word you used, but with a completely different meaning) lack of basic grammar removes all credibility you may have had.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 10:54 PM, abbas20 wrote:

    Apple is not a good company anymore. its overused and almost everyone has one. I went to this party and saw children from 15 yrs of age all the way to their parents using Iphones or other Apple products. I pulled out my Samsung Galaxy S4 and immediately, people started crowding around asking me what it can do and comparing their Iphones/apple products to the Samsung version. The Isheep eventually agreed that Samsung did a way better job in innovation than Apple and that Apple hikes up its prices ALOT for profits. Seriously if Apple wants more people to buy their products, they have to innovate. A phone should not look the same for every generation. Look at the line up for Apple phones and the line up for Samsung phones and everyone will agree that Samsung products look much more beautiful. On the other hand, Apple increases its prices for a new generation phone that looks the same but has a faster processor. Shame on you Apple.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2013, at 11:27 PM, dkknight593 wrote:

    Why should I overpay for a PC. I use it to do work. PC is also a better gaming platform. Linux is even better than mac OS in some regards.

    Mac is all about eye candy but I would rather have a PC. They can keep their innovations because I wont pay.

    The bulk of Apple isn't even made in America to justify the price gouging.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 12:27 AM, omnetra wrote:

    I sat a windows 8 pc right by a brand new Apple iMac. The Apple iMac worked much faster, was easier to use, and I was able to do more creatively with a iMac. I think that Apple thinks ahead. Peace, Jacob Kanduch

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 2:42 AM, SpartacusKhan wrote:


    Define "a windows 8 pc".

    I'm sure if you looked hard enough, you might be able to find one that failed to measure up to your totally objective and clearly accurate speed comparisons and scientific "creativity" testing, but only because Windows is not stuck inside some arbitrary walled garden and as an OS can be put on pretty much anything, even your imac.

    If you care to do a dollar-for-dollar test, everything apple makes falls far short every time to almost everything even close to it's price point, especially their, um, "computers", which typically consist of two-year-old hardware and an unnecessarily locked-down version of free BSD with an anti-intuitive GUI all wrapped up in a super-expensive marketing onslaught paid for by suckers like YOU.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 2:43 AM, blkjedi954 wrote:


    Apple products are great because they put money into the R&D of said products. PC can be built by any neanderthal like yourself and packaged and shipped for dirt cheap. The level of quality of material and design is reflected in the feel, reliability and the satisfaction of their customer base. If you read, you'd notice that PC sales have tumbled further than your IQ while Apple computers are steadily increasing in market share year over year. If you knew anything, you'd see the independent researches that show that the more affluent and to some degree disproportionate amount of purchasers of Apple product tend to be college graduates. So I guess it tends towards this being smarter thing you mentioned. I say go for whatever you like, but don't hate Apple for the sake of hating Apple or because its the "cool" thing to do. Think for yourself. Ignore the masses. I have a PC because of the insurmountable amounts of software I have access to but I do have an iPhone and an iPad. I buy what I need and I like not what the magazines tell me to purchase. But I will be purchasing a MacBook in the near future b/c they're well constructed and I enjoy their OS better than this Win 8 crap!!

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 9:15 AM, webguy76 wrote:


    Call me the "neanderthal" and say I have a "low IQ", but I am not the one tossing around dumb high-school jokes. Mac's are built with the exact same hardware components, all made in China, just like PC's. The only difference is the OS. People like Mac because it is "easier" to use, they think it will not get a virus, and it is trendy. These are the same people that rushed out tho buy Windows 95 if you're old enough to remember. But what would you say the vast majority of people do on a computer? Design websites? Java programmer? Video game designer? No, they surf the web and use Office. So why do these people need a $3000 Macbook Pro? It's just a question. People will always flock to the latest and greatest, and there will be something to replace Windows and iOS, maybe even Linux.

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