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Apple patents suggest it is moving into mobile commerce full-throttle

April 21, 2010


iPay, iCoupon, iNFC?

Recent patent filings by Apple Inc. are hinting at a possible Apple-lead mobile commerce ecosystem with NFC, mobile payments and coupons at the forefront.

The applications describe mobile payments, retailing and marketing services. Additionally, the patent applications point to Apple’s obvious plans to enter NFC, which may actually give the space a much-needed push in the United States.

“Systems and methods are provided that allow for a portable electronic device to provide smart menus to a user based on a context of a transaction,” the Smart Menu Options patent application says. “Specifically, the method of using a portable electronic device may include opening a near field communication (NFC) channel with a point-of-purchase device and providing a smart menu based on a determined context.

“The portable electronic device may be configured to determine the context based at least in part upon acquiring sales transaction information for the point-of-purchase device,” it says. “Additionally, the portable electronic device may be configured to determine the context based at least in part upon acquiring vendor identification information.”

Apple did not return calls for this story.

The “Smart Menu Options” application filing goes into detail on the method by which consumers select payment options at the point of sale.

The patent also touches on the method by which user location and transactional information is determined at the point of sale.

Transportation ticketing is also mentioned in the patent application.

In addition, Apple goes into detail on its plans for generating revenues within the mobile commerce space.

The “Real-Time Bargain Hunting” patent application delves into commerce related activities outside of purchases, such as browsing, searching for deals and such.

“Systems and methods for providing shopping-related information to a consumer are provided,” the Real-Time Bargain Hunting patent application says. “Embodiments of the system provide a consumer with shopping-related information, such as pricing information, product quality, consumer ratings, and other information that may help a consumer make an informed purchasing decision.

“Other embodiments allow a consumer to obtain and compare retail prices offered by several retailers for a specified product. Still other embodiments allow a seller to send targeted product information to a consumer who has indicated an interest in purchasing a specific product,” it says.

The patent raises claims regarding the method of acquiring consumer product information with a handheld electronic device and acquiring an identifier from a product located near the device via NFC.

Additionally, Apple is claiming patent rights to the method by which consumers transmit the product identifier from the device to a data manager via a wireless network.

Apple outlined its plans to drive revenues from retailers by letting them target consumers based on the types of offers they would be interested in.

The company claims that consumer shopping habits point to the types deals they are interested in.

“In some embodiments, both the manufacturer database and the retailer database may contain advertisements that may be sent to the electronic device in response to the information request packet,” the patent application says. “Such advertisements may include product related data, and/or media files such as picture, video and audio files.

“The data manager may also be communicatively coupled to a consumer database which may hold information related to the user of the electronic device,” it says. “For example, the consumer database may include a preference profile of the user of the electronic device.

“The preference profile may include such information as specific retailers that the user prefers and/or specific brands of products that the user prefers.”

Click here to read the Smart menu options patent filing 

Click here to read the Real-time bargain hunting patent filing

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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