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The Superbad SuperPad, 2007
Forget puny trackpads: this design offers wall-to-wall touch sensitivity for ham-handed action. Don’t grab your folders with a finger; manhandle them with a two-fisted multigrope. True multitaskers can type with one hand while they browse the Internet or flip through photos with the other.
While the extended surface area takes up the space for wrist rests, the patent mentions that this pad is “smarter” than its cousins, able to distinguish purposeful touching from inadvertent brushing. But really, who needs wrist rests anyway? Our wrists will rest when they’re dead.
The iRemote, 1993
Back in ’93, Apple was apparently hot to get into the universal-remote game, as this patent sketch shows. Though short on description, the patent images Apple created show a decidedly fashion-forward remote, but with questionable usefulness.
First of all, what is that lil’ nubbin in the middle? Some kind of cross between
an Etch A Sketch and a joystick, it may have been intended as an early pointing device. Or maybe it was meant for for Skittle storage.
Though pretty, the thing has 10 buttons total—not great for channel surfing as the mere six numeric keys leave many channels out of reach. But an obvious power button means it would probably work just as well as Archie Bunker’s archaic clicker. Now those were the days.
Why is Apple So Hush-Hush?
We are all pawns in an elaborate game of big buzz and bigger sales.
It was—unequivocally—the most talked-about tech product of the year.
When Apple announced the iPhone in January of 2007, months ahead of its commercial release, it broke with years of tradition in which Apple never talked about its upcoming products ahead of their availability, period. While iPhone was a special case (FCC filings had to be made well in adpvance of the product’s release), it’s long been customary that, when Steve Jobs takes to the stage to talk about
new products, the Apple online store is closed. When the speech is done, the store reopens, and everything Jobs just announced is suddenly available.
It’s a strategy that doesn’t make a lot of sense on paper. What if Hollywood didn’t advertise movies until opening day? What if a new
car suddenly appeared on dealer lots without advance warning? Who would notice?
Yet it’s a strategy that has unquestionably worked. In the past month, press mentions of Apple have outpaced mentions of Dell by a ratio of about three to one, despite the fact that Dell is nearly three times the size.
What’s going on? Can simple secrecy really have this much of an impact? “Mystery is sexier than transparency,” offers Brian Lam, editor of the gadget blog Gizmodo. “Do I think it works? Let’s put it this way, when was the last time you wrote about a phone 25 times before it was even confirmed as being real?”
But how much can secrecy and the resulting “buzz” really add to the bottom line? According to Blackfriars Marketing, $700 million a year. Analyst Rob Enderle, analyst with the Enderle Group, offers one explanation, saying, “Apple has learned that much of the initial excitement over a new product is created when potential buyers first learn of it. When products are predisclosed, often the market has lost its excitement prior to release, and competitors are better able to position their offerings around products they have known about for some time. China, in particular, can have clones on the market very quickly.”
In other words, demand for a product—at least an Apple product—is at its height the day the product is announced, and then it starts to fade. Apple positions itself to capture the highest possible amount of sales while that frenzy is in full bloom. And that in turn is fed by the bare trickle of information that seeps out of Apple as slowly as molasses, a vicious circle of incredibly high demand for a virtually nonexistent supply of information