Speculation rife after Apple receives touch screen patent


If you're trying to figure out Apple's next product move - always a fun spectator sport - geek out over this recent patent abstract that speaks volumes about where Steve Jobs may be pointing the company.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple a broad patent for touch screen functionality on portable devices, offering concrete support for the belief that Apple intend to include that functionality in myriad ways, including a Web browser and a home screen.

"A computer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display, comprises displaying a portion of page content, including a frame displaying a portion of frame content and also including other content of the page, on the touch screen display," the patent abstract reads. "An N-finger translation gesture is detected on or near the touch screen display. In response, the page content, including the displayed portion of the frame content and the other content of the page, is translated to display a new portion of page content on the touch screen display."

On the surface, this award appears to be a big win for Apple - and a big loss for its rivals in the smartphone business. Some patent experts now believe that Apple now may be able to use the patent to bully competitors as it covers the finger movement technology incorporated by many mobile device makers.

Of course, patent applications come and go and often nothing comes of them. However, the success of Apple's portable devices, such as the iPhone and iPad, would suggest that touchscreen technology may well become increasingly important in the future. You can read more about Apple's plans on CNET