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Wireless (Apple) Businesses Patents Apple Hardware

Apple Patents 'Buy Stuff Wirelessly, Skip Lines' Tech 254

An anonymous reader writes "Apple is looking to patent a process that will save customers the hassle of waiting to order a cup of coffee at a local Starbucks. Even better: The technology would let you jump the line of those ordering in person. 'Customers might tap a button to order their favorite drink, say a double-shot mocha, as they stroll up to the nearest coffee shop. When the drink is ready go to, the device--such as an iPhone--would chime or blink to let the thirsty one know it's time to scoop up the order at the counter. The patent puts Apple's partnership with Starbucks in a new light. The technology promises to morph Apple from the business of simply selling gadgets and music and movies that can be played on those devices into an intermediary in all kinds of exchanges.'"
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Apple Patents 'Buy Stuff Wirelessly, Skip Lines' Tech

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  • Obvious patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WillRobinson ( 159226 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:38PM (#21833768) Journal
    I think this is an obvious patent. Wish I would have decided to be a lawyer instead of a technical person. My retirement would be much better.
    • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:53PM (#21833944) Homepage Journal
      This is obvious, let me count the ways.

      In the 1980s, I could walk up to an ATM machine, tap a few buttons, and order airline tickets. This put me ahead of the people standing in line at the ticket counter.

      Today, I can walk up to a kiosk and order movie tickets, which puts me ahead of those waiting in line.

      Decades ago, I could call a restaurant and reserve a table, putting me ahead of those who were in line to tell the waiter that they needed a table.
    • Re:Obvious patents (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vimh42 ( 981236 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:12PM (#21834204)
      Forget about the patent being obvious. If I'm standing in line, and some idiot comes into the store and gets their drink first because they ordered it with their iPhone, do you think I'm going to have anything nice to say when I have a little chat with the manager about customer service? Don't you think that type of problem is a little obvious?
      • Re:Obvious patents (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:19PM (#21834276) Homepage Journal
        What is the problem?
        I do this all the time. My local grocery store deli takes phone orders. I often call them when I am in the store and place my order. They have a line for phone orders. I often see a huge line and I just call in my order, finish the rest of my shopping and pick up my sub.
        I also have a few restaurants in my cell phone that I go to often. They allow you to call ahead to reserve your place in line. I call when I leave my house and often I have no wait for a table.
        I thought using technology was a good thing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rucs_hack ( 784150 )
          I think the main reason for registering such a patent is most likely defensive. Apple have had lots of experience being hammered in stupid patent suites, as have many tech companies, so if they have a patent, however vague, they can use it to prevent expensive lawsuits.

          Not that this justifies silly patents, but it does provide a reason for their registration.
          • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
            So they are going to donate it to one of those "good" (I don't mean that sarcastically) patent holders? Wish I could remember the name of one.
            • touché sir.

              I am forced to agree, but I have a nieve hope that some sense will be made of this problem. Until then I think that defensive patents will be registered. Probably these will worsen the problem, but can you find any reason why a tech company wouldn't do it?
          • by shmlco ( 594907 )
            Defensive? Maybe. But as I pointed out on iSights when discussing the same patent [], does anyone really think that Starbucks is busy rolling out an advanced wireless communication system nationwide... just so they can sell a few extra tunes?

            An iTunes track sells for a buck, of which the label gets 70-cents. So Apple and Starbucks get to split the rest, with Apple probably taking the lions share as they still have deliver the content. This leaves roughly 5-to-10 cents for a given Starbucks store to drop into t
      • by be-fan ( 61476 )
        What's wrong with that? They get their drink first because they _ordered_ it first.
      • by tacocat ( 527354 ) <> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:16PM (#21835228)

        I'm glad you got there before me. I was thinking that this jerkwad with the slick iPhone was going to get his latte via suppository rather than a regular cup. This might sound appealing but there's going to be hell to pay in the lines.

        But then you had to go and mention customer service as if anyone gives a damn about that anymore.

        We need a patent to punch the guy in the mouth when he strolls up with his iPhone asking for his double latte foo-foo coffee drink for $15.75 before we can get our morning grog.

    • This is especially obvious since people already use their phones to order & buy things in places like Japan. Hopefully the patent system allows for prior art from outside the US?
    • this is an obvious patent.

      Most vague idea patents are obvious. Imagine of such a lack of specificity could be applied to copyright. I would copyright "the adventures of a young boy as he grows into a man." and "The story of young lovers and the events surrounding their courtship." That covers about 25% of all fictional literature.

      Maybe I should patent "a process to fix the US Patent system through more stringent and precise documentation of the invention"
  • Unbelievable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:38PM (#21833772) Homepage Journal
    I haven't read the whole patent, and I don't intend to do so. I'm sure there is some very specific crap in there to somehow make this 'different' and 'patentable'. But the truth of the matter is that patenting the process is asinine. I buy pizza this way all the time and have been doing so for a while. I order it and pay online. I walk in, give my name and get my order. I don't wait in line.
    I may have to stop reading any story dealing with patents because the whole thing has just gone completely beyond insane. The only upside I can see is that I could start going to starbucks with a pda in hand, wait to see some tasty drink put out for pickup and snag it before the rightful owner. Free drinks.
    • Maybe the part about notification when it's ready is important here. Otherwise, everything else has already been done.
      • I get an email back about my pizza. That's close enough for me. I wonder what this will look like for the starbucks employees. I was joking about stealing drinks myself but I can't see how this wont make such activity trivial for the less morally inhibited among us.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by everphilski ( 877346 )
        track your pizza [] from Papa John's to your doorstep.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by UncleTogie ( 1004853 ) *

        Maybe the part about notification when it's ready is important here. Otherwise, everything else has already been done.

        The notifications... [] have been done before, too...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by arivanov ( 12034 )
        I have seen the ordering system in a Spanish restaurant in the middle of nowhere (Los Gigantes - a small resort on the west coast of Tenerife) do that in 2005. So there is plenty of prior art.

        IIRC, all orders were taken on small wireless palmtops (probably some variety of ruggedized palm with custom software). The order was transmitted to the kitchen straight away and the waiter could service the next table and so on instead of running like mad between the table rows and the kitchen (as customary). When an
        • by Zordak ( 123132 )
          The fact that it was done at a Spanish restaurant does not make it prior art for U.S. purposes. If it was known in the U.S. before Apple "invented" it, that counts. The Spanish prior art will only be available if somebody described it in a printed publication (that can be anywhere in the world).
    • Re:Unbelievable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:52PM (#21833936) Homepage Journal
      Repeat after me: any patent which is summarized by a reporter relates in no way to the actual patent. Unless you've read the entire patent or at least ALL of the claims, you have no idea what the patent is about. Typically I can find at least 3 ways to summarize even really good and innovative patents that would make people pick up their pitchforks and torches. It's just too easy to do, and it turns out that it gets Slashdot some extra readership. :-/

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The fact that you "can find at least 3 ways to summarize even really good and innovative patents" should tell you that the patent in question is neither good nor innovative.

    • I may have to stop reading any story dealing with patents because the whole thing has just gone completely beyond insane.
      What part of "somebody is making a lot of money off this, albeit neither of us" did you specifically think was "beyond insane"?
      I suppose the dissonance between what the patent system was intended to do, and what it has become is rather breathtaking, but "beyond insane"?
    • First off snagging a cup of coffee because it's sitting on a counter is thieft. There may be a debate about IP and downloading but I don't think there's a debate about taking physical items. Just because Brittany does it, steals a lighter in front of the paparazzi, doesn't make it alright.

      I'm curious about the patent. I'm assuming it relates specifically proprietary software and hardware that they developed as in a long range goal with the iPhones. They seem to want to expand it over time into a personal

    • Re:Unbelievable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @07:02PM (#21834686) Homepage Journal

      I'm sure there is some very specific crap in there to somehow make this 'different' and 'patentable'.
      If so, then that "very specific crap" will limit the claims to make them allowable. A patent does not give you the right to prohibit anybody from doing anything that looks like the abstract. It's limited by the claims, which have to be patentable over prior art. Until you've read and carefully examined the claims, you have not idea what the "patent" is.
  • Obvious? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I mean honestly, how different is this to dialing ahead with your order from a cell phone? That uses wireless technology to skip queues & waiting too.

    Well done Apple - patent innovation the Microsoft/Amazon way!
    • Re:Obvious? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xRelisH ( 647464 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:51PM (#21833920)
      mean honestly, how different is this to dialing ahead with your order from a cell phone?

      Umm, I have a few:
      1. I'd rather order through a readable UI with touch screen than having to repeat myself several times over the phone due to poor signal or noise where I am. I always order pizza from my computer, ordering through similar means on something mobile would be more convenient.
      2. The store would need to hire someone on the phone to take the order. Having a person actually there helps when ordering in person for ambiance, but when you're ordering over the phone, it's annoying... and don't get me started with those voice activated systems. I'd rather be able to select what I want through a digital menu.
      3. If this system is tied into a billing system like how .Mac is, then this saves me another hassle of having to say my credit card information over the phone or have to whip it out and slide at the counter.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Exactly, this is quite different from the old "Pick up the phone and call in for a pizza." You're talking a completely encapsulated ordering interface, WiFi connection, order queue interrupt (to bump yours into the queue for those barristas to make) and a billing system. It's like saying that a cell phone is obvious tech because you had a landline for years.

        The major question that this article doesn't answer though, is will there be a virtual tip jar???

        • Oh, and in case some smartass tries to say "Well cell phones and land lines are completely different things", then let me use a better example. It's like saying that cell phones are obvious tech and not worth a patent because of wireless "walkie talkies".

          Thing is, while they bear some similarities to each other because they both transmit wirelessly and they make use of signal variance to reach different users, they're completely different. Just like ordering from your PC/Phone and driving over there is v

          • How about going with 'Ordering a pizza online.' They don't have to hire someone for the phone, it's built into the billing system, inserted into the queue automatically.

            Apple took the standard "...over the internet" patent addendum and tossed in "wirelessly."
          • The fusion of technologies (phone + walkie-talkie ~= cordless phone) is obvious and not patentable. What is non-obvious and patentable is the various brands of glue (CDMA/GSM/etc. RF MACs and phone chipsets) that make this fusion possible.
      • by Khyber ( 864651 )
        All three of your points have been addressed by for the past few years now. Apple is attempting to patent something that's been done before, even Buffalo Wild Wings has been doing this. It's too blatantly obvious, and also, this has been done with touchscreen menus in restaurants.
    • Jumping Beans?

      THIS patent gives the BEAN COUNTERS something to do with their COUNTER TOPS. AND, to boot, they get to SELL cookies while COUNTING and tracking cookies.

      Gives a new meaning to "mad dash" for the coffee.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I mean honestly, how different is this to dialing ahead with your order from a cell phone? That uses wireless technology to skip queues & waiting too.

      Its not much different in outline, its different only in the mechanics of implementation. Of course, patents don't cover outlines, they cover mechanics of implementation, so noticing that this is similar but in the mechanics of implementation is not really a good argument against patentability. The broad outline is fairly obvious, but without reading the a

    • "how different is this to dialing ahead with your order from a cell phone?"

      Because now you can buy your favorite "whatzit" and have the it tell you when it's ready to pick up, already paid for with just one click. It's the same, yes, but the mechanics of making it easier can be patented. "I know of a way to keep you from having to dial a phone number, talk to a guy that hopefully gets the order right, have to either use cash or give your number to this guy, etc..."

      As stated previously, summaries about pa
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:41PM (#21833796) Homepage Journal
    You can already buy video from the iTunes store so why not an over priced cup of coffee?
    Now if Apple can just get a GPS into the next iPhone it will be complete.
    You tap the starbucks icon and it finds the nearest Starbucks. You then get a menu select what you want and then you are good to go.
    You then get a text message when it is done.
    Could work for just about any restaurant. My cell phone already searches for gas by price and then can give me turn by turn directions to the station.
    • Searching for gas by price... how much disparity is there where you live? Around here, it's usually not more than a few cents a gallon within any reasonable driving distance (that is, the distance beyond which any savings you would realize are consumed by the extra gas spent.) And unless you are filling up by the hundreds of gallons, you won't save any measurable amount of cash by 'shopping around' for gas. So I am curious...
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
        Actually as much as 15 cents and sometimes within just a few blocks of one another. Yesterday I saw one place that had gas at 2.97 a gallon just a few blocks from a station that had gas at 3.17 a gallon.
        It is more handy when you are traveling. The gas station right on the exits tends to be pretty pricey and not every exit has a station.
        And of course it gives me the price and the distance to the station.
    • You can already buy video from the iTunes store so why not an over priced cup of coffee?
      Since you are doing all the work of placing the order and paying for it online, how much of a discount do you get?
      I still don't understand why people pay $6 for a cup of coffee. Coffee is supposed to be $0.50 and unlimited refills.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by value_added ( 719364 )
        I still don't understand why people pay $6 for a cup of coffee. Coffee is supposed to be $0.50 and unlimited refills.

        Ahh, the great old days when coffee was indeed pennies per cup and unlimited refills were cheerfully served by a blue-haired waitress with a name like Marge or Betty sewn on her uniform. What I wouldn't pay to go back to those days, when the coffee I was served was made from stale low-grade beans and boiled to within an inch of its life in large percolators where it typically sat for hours b
  • This idea has been explored in Science fiction a lot, I remember one outer limits where the people considered others of their social group "retarded" for not being able to order ahead electronically.

    Also, don't the Japanese already do this with their cell phone technology? Does Japanese prior art count?
    • Does Japanese prior art count?

      Yes. And if you are too poor to afford your own translator, than a shitty mistranslation of Japanese prior art counts...

      IANAL, nor am I bitter.

  • Fandango... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:44PM (#21833834)
    Hmmm I go to their website, buy a ticket. Then when I get to the movie theater I go to the "Fandango Only" line, bypassing the other people, get my tickets and go in.

    • when I get to the movie theater I go to the "Fandango Only" line
      Wow! Fandango [] must be a really popular movie to still be in theatrical release.
      Kinda sucks that you have to keep seeing the same movie over and over again though.
  • Yuck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimmy_dean ( 463322 ) <james DOT hodapp AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:46PM (#21833864) Homepage
    I love Apple and their products (I have 2 Macs and an iPod), but this is ridiculous. I can't believe the patent system allows this. Who are these people in charge of granting patents who get suckered into thinking this is a unique, tangible product? Patents are for recuperating costs (among other uses), where are Apple's costs in developing this idea?
    • Re:Yuck (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @07:58PM (#21835112)

      Patents are for recuperating costs (among other uses), where are Apple's costs in developing this idea?

      Patents allow you to recoup costs. Patents do not require that have costs.

      Causation is one reason for correlation. Correlation is not one reason for causation.

      Or, more generally,( A --> B ) -/-> ( B --> A ). Yay symbolic logic.

  • Prior art? (Score:3, Funny)

    by sokoban ( 142301 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:47PM (#21833884) Homepage
    There is a local 24 hour diner that I sometimes eat at late at night. Generally from 2:00 AM onwards, there is a huge drunk crowd. I place my order over the phone so that when I get there I don't have to wait in line to order. Sometimes, if there is a long line and I didn't expect one, I call from my table to place my order. When my order is ready, the wait staff yells out my name, wirelessly no less, to notify me that my order is ready.
    • Re:Prior art? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zullnero ( 833754 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:27PM (#21834360) Homepage
      There's more prior art than that. A whole freaking lot more. I've personally interviewed and worked with several companies that have practically patented almost the exact same concept. Using a mobile device to buy stuff wirelessly is a concept that has been around for many years. There are patents all over the place in regards to this idea, and the biggest problem is actually implementing something without tripping one of them off. You need to do such and such for security scheme x, but that's already patented by so and so...etc.

      It's a bloody mess, so Mac fans...don't get your hopes up. I know a lot of you are suddenly all pumped about this smartphone revolution that has been around a lot longer than your iPhone...but this particular market is a minefield. Wonder why you haven't seen much out of Palm lately? Everywhere you turn, there's another freaking patent in your face and another guy or corporation who is sitting on it looking to make his quick fortune. That is why REAL innovation is slowing down so much in the mobile market. Either you innovate and risk the lawsuits, or you try and work around the patents, and you never get anything done.

      And if you don't like it, then get up and do something about the US patent system.
  • dumb idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:48PM (#21833892)
    There's one problem though. If customers did it that way then they wouldn't get to act like a douche at the counter about the staff getting their 10 word drink correct nor would they get to feel all special ordering a 10 word drink out loud. One of my college teachers used to work at a Starbucks and trust me he said, "People really are like that. Every one of them." They don't want convenience and speed, they wanna walk in and act like the most self important dick in the world and pretend they're rich by spending like $8 on a coffee. If you take that away, they'll stop coming!
    • by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:08PM (#21834140) Journal
      I call BS! I buy coffee, more specifically a White Chocolate Mocha With Soy Milk And Caramel On Top at Starbucks ALL THE TIME (because I'm rich) and half the time there's a customer there who is not at all what you describe. He's just there for some tea (me, I don't even say "tea" anymore I just say "Tazo" because that probably means 'tea' in Mexican or something anyway) or something and stares at the menu for like a whole minute like a clueless moron and then has trouble figuring out that a Grande is medium not large what a dolt.
      • Man, I have the same problem at Quiznos. It's just easier for everyone involved when I order a "For Here, Regular Classic Italian, On Wheat, No Vegetables Except Lettuce", and then stare menacingly at the staff to make sure they get it right. (FACT: They always do. And if I didn't specify all of that at once they would ask me, "is that for here or to go?" "What size?" "Which sandwich?" "White bread or wheat?" "Olives and tomatoes?" I hear Starbucks does the same thing if you just try to order coffee.)
    • where they do it from an iPhone. So they still get to act like a rich self important dick.
    • by Animats ( 122034 )

      nor would they get to feel all special ordering a 10 word drink out loud.

      Exactly. That's the entire point of Starbucks. It's an ego boost. It's not about coffee.

      That's why expresso machines are made to look complex and to require so much manual attention. The job could be done better by a microprocessor with a few sensors and actuators, and often it is []; the manual stuff is mostly for drama.

      That business is about experience, not product. Faster order processing isn't the point.

    • But before Starbucks brought the masses to coffee. Working there you get accustomed to specialized drinks and I actually became too embarrassed to ask for the drink I would drink. When cappuccinos hit Hollywood is when I finally just gave up and started drinking coffee or tea. It's embarrassing when the drink you want contains 5 or more words in the name. But it's ridiculous when you see people ordering them from chain that would be lucky to make a simple pot of coffee.
  • In the given example if I was in line at this Starbucks of the future and some trendy yob talking on a phone walks in the door gets his mocha and leaves while I am standing there waiting for someone to take my order I would probably fight off the urge to pop someone in the nose and just walk out the door to a smaller mom an pop type place where I can still get some personal service.

    Bear in mind that I am techie and that is how I would react, imagine what your dad would do.

    I can see this for ordering a pizza
  • I've seen the waiters at TK Noodle doing this for years now. Remote keypad system for taking and making orders.

    Unless they're patenting the "skipping ahead of line" part...

  • At most Starbucks I've been to, the bottleneck is not the ordering process, it's the order fulfillment side of things - That's where they're backed up.

    This seems to contrast with McDonald's, where the bottleneck is taking the orders (too many people don't start trying to decide what they want until they step up to the counter). As a result, here in Vancouver, Canada, lots of McDonalds have staff with wireless PDAs, wandering down the queues taking orders. When you get to the till all you have to do is pay

    • but now they can take your dough before the bottleneck, incentivising you to remain in line (duh, when everyone's using this the mobile line will be longer than the in person line.) Net result, fuller fulfillment queue and lower risk of employee idle time.

      I, for one, miss my robotic overlords. Vacation and employee relations were better.
  • Although it's not *exactly* as Apple described, WaWa (world's most amazing convenience store/deli chain on the east coast) has had something similar for taking deli orders for a few years. You can't pay with it (although the capability has reportedly been there for some time), but it does take care of the rest of the ordering process.

    WaWa's system isn't particularly novel, but then again, neither is Apple's (which also doesn't deal particularly well with theft).
  • Jumped the Shark (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:18PM (#21834266)

    1995 called...and wanted to remind Apple what happened the last time they got away from their core business of making computers and operating system software.

    It's a common downfall. Corporation X makes money doing something well, but either gets greedy, or starts to saturate the market...and looks elsewhere for revenue. Corporation X starts to spread to thin, outside its 'comfort zone', and abuses the trust consumers placed in the brand name. The brand name devalues. Company X finds itself competing against an upstart that is focused, and because its brand name has devalued, its high-margin items aren't selling.

    If you want to see a great example of this, look at Nintendo: despite the might of Microsoft, the Xbox 360 isn't what people are desperate to get their hands on, and the Wii isn't having problems with its online service. Nintendo is making money hand over fist on the Wii, and Microsoft just lost almost TWO BILLION DOLLARS on the Xbox division. [] Meanwhile, Vista is an absolute disaster, and the world is gunning for Office.

    I look at Apple and see warning signs too. Leopard's release *stunk*. There were the simplest bugs; they still haven't fixed an issue that causes the hard drive controller to lock up, and it took weeks for the fix to the "everything gets deleted if a file move to another volume fails" bug. The finder navigation related to file server volumes absolutely SUCKS, and frankly- the rest of the hundred-plus features are nothing but glitz, or grossly overdue (like workgroup calendaring.) About the only thing that was improved was Spotlight...

    • Are you high? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by marcmac ( 105570 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:06PM (#21835156)
      Last time Apple "got away from their core business of making computers and operating system software" they invented the friggin' iPhone - maybe you've heard of it? Or did you miss the announcement because your iPod was too loud? (iPod being the time before last that they "got away from their blah blah blah".

      Seriously - AAPL is at $200, and Apple marketshare is growing, precisely because of this kind of lifestyle stuff.
  • Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
    • by Scooter ( 8281 )
      Make it so? Oh yeah? Ever tried ordering a drink at Starbucks using a name that in any way describes what you'd like? It'd go like this:-

      Data: Captain, acting on the last crew feedback survey, we've done away with the replicator coffee and installed a branch of Starbucks on every deck - would you care to try it out?
      Picard: Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
      Starbucks: Do you mean Breakfast Tea(TM) sir? or Tazo?
      Picard: ermm what is "breakfast tea" ?
      Starbucks: It's tea - like you drink at Breakfast(TM) sir.
      Picard: Is i
  • If the Apple stores (real ones, like on the street) are any reference point, this point of sale system will be a piece of shit (thus finally unifying the POS acronym). I have never gotten through the register line in less than 10 minutes, even when there's only one person ahead of me. Then just try paying cash in an Apple store, and watch what happens--only one worker among them can do a cash transaction, and she's tied up on someone else's transactino.
    • Que? I've only bought things in real Apple stores a couple of times, but it's about the quickest transaction you can make. Hell they even email you your receipt.
    • Funny, I was just in an Apple store before Christmas to buy a gift. All I had to do was walk up to one of the employees standing around (no visible check out counter or line). I asked for the item I wanted. He went to the stockroom to retrieve it, swiped my credit card on a handheld POS and then went to a counter to retrieve a printed receipt for me. I was in and out of the store in under 2 minutes and there were easily over 60 customers during prime Chrismtas shopping hours. When I got home, there was a co
  • Zonk, for the love of Pete Townsend, please stop using hyphens in lieu of commas or parentheses! It is - without a doubt - highly annoying!

    (And I realize that the summaries are usually written by the submitters, but this makes two in a row with the same mind-crushing usage)
  • You're scooping their products and services up at ever growing rates. Ranting about anything Apple does is like ranting about the Government; if you just bitch and aren't willing to follow through with action(i.e. stop using their products) then it's just a bunch of hot air.

    Their stock just hit $200/share for the first time...the do not CARE what any of you think about their practices.
  • This is new? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cgreentx ( 990146 )
    Yes.. Everyone is saying practically the same thing here, but I've ordered items from the browser on my cell phone at Best Buy and Circuit City while standing at the Customer Service counter because the idiot managers refused to order their online prices... Minutes later my order was pulled and I got, imagine this, notification on my phone via email that my order was ready. Highly innovative there Apple.
  • This is the difference in how Apple thinks vs how Microsoft thinks.

    Microsoft's solution to this problem - Microsoft Surface - is to say here's a huge, $10,000 table that customers can order from; replace all your diner's tables with Microsoft tables.

    Apple says, hey, wait a second, you don't need some huge, stupid table that has the very best interior design aesthetic Microsoft can offer, no, since everyone already carries a cell phone, why don't we just let you order and pay from your cell phone too?

    Now whi
  • The Starbucks customer who thinks that ordering "coffee" you can't taste over the other 6 ingredients makes them look cool / sophisticated are some of the same folks who think that standing in line flashing around an Apple product makes them look sophisticated. It's another form of conspicuous consumption enabled by lifestyle marketing. Essentially, it's not much different than that staple of introductory Anthropology courses, Malinowski's description of Trobriand yam cultivation / display. []
    • Essentially, it's not much different than that staple of introductory Anthropology courses, Malinowski's description of Trobriand yam cultivation / display.

      You're missing a big point, while the display of yams is for status, the purpose of the yams is to prevent starvation. So those who have the largest yams left on display are the most successful (least likely to starve). The difference between that and Apple as a status symbol is that anyone can buy an Apple product regardless of how successful they a

  • If you want to read the actual 64 claims, check out the Patent [].

    I'm all for patent outrage, but this one isn't a good example, unless you're against all IP protection, everywhere.
    • I don't know how lawyers read that stuff without falling asleep.

      Is the patent on an AND of all 64 claims. or on an OR? The claims were just a list with no obvious ANDing or ORing, apart from the reference in claims to other claims. I presume the claims are ANDed? I can't believe they're ORed because otherwise the protected invention(s) would be very broad and very simple, even allowing for the linking of the claims.

      I just reread that, and I nearly fell asleep.

      • by mosch ( 204 )
        Claims can be independant (in which case they are OR'd) or dependent (in which case they are AND'd). It all depends on the exact language in the claim itself.

  • About the only difference between this and existing schemes that I can see is that it's using a point to point connection between the Starbucks kit and the iPhone, instead of going off to some webserver off in the Internet.
  • I can see it now. Two twits in the Silicon Valley at a Starbucks, both named Steve. One of them claims that the venti, half skim, half soy, extra hot latte with a shot is his because the girl at the counter announced it is for Steve. The other guy claims it his because his iPhone buzzed. Much hillarity ensues and in the end, the guy with his Treo running Windows Mobile OS gets his tall drip coffee first because well, he did it the old fashioned way because Windows Mobile wasn't Starbucks compatible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dave562 ( 969951 )
      I forgot to mention how this is going to breed pretentious attitudes from guys who don't bother to talk to anybody in Starbucks and then scoff at the employees for not automatically knowing that they are there for their coffee because, "Duh, I iOrdered it with my iPhone iHead of time." The next thing they are going to want is an iRedCarpet rolled out for them when their Apple software alerts Starbucks that they are nearing the store... but that functionality would take a GPS, and the iPhone doesn't have on
  • This sounds a lot like those electronic wireless coasters that restaurants have been using for years. You're re-purposing a general-purpose device (a phone) to do what the special-purpose device (the coaster) already does.

    Usually the coasters are used to buzz you at the bar or wherever, to let you know your table is ready. I've also seen them used after you've paid to let you know your food has been prepared. All they're doing is replacing the register with a web site, and programming the coaster funct

  • by vrmlguy ( 120854 ) <> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:47PM (#21835476) Homepage Journal
    I thought that this sounded familiar, so I Googled some keywords and immediately found this: []

    The introduction of the cell phone into the process can change things greatly, said David Sacks, vice president for strategy at He conjured a scene from the wireless future: ''Walk down the street, a few blocks away from your favorite Starbucks, pull out your Web-connected cell phone, you get a Starbucks menu, click espresso, and it's sent. And you've not only ordered it, but you've paid and you can go pick it up.''
  • Insurance (Score:2, Informative)

    by logicpaw ( 868693 )
    This is simply insurance and has little to do with patenting something new. The patent office occasionally grants marginal and outright flaky patents, and will continue to do so even if the current process is improved somewhat. For a big company (read: deep pockets lawsuit target) it's cheaper to file a patent on something ambiguously new or obvious, and have it rejected, than to be the subject of a suit from a troll who got lucky with a nearly identical filing under some hidden submarine title. If grant

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