iPhone 5 model designed by Steve Jobs
The tech giant filed a case with the World Intellectual Property Organisation to wrest control of the internet address, which had been used by a Apple fan forum site.
The move comes ahead of rumours that Apple is gearing up to release the next incarnation of the iPhone this autumn, with a major overhaul of its design over seen by Mr Jobs prior to his death.
Bloomberg cited a source ‘with knowledge of the plans’ surrounding the new iPhone who claimed that Mr Jobs played a key role in the development of the device, even while on medical leave from his company.
The company has since placed orders for bigger screens that the 3.5in size the phone currently boasts as it tries to catch up with rivals like Samsung.
In the first quarter of this year Samsung overtook Apple as the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer, with a range of products using screens of various sizes.
The new iPhone screens will measure 4 inches from corner to corner, one source said. That would represent a roughly 30 per cent increase in viewing area, assuming Apple kept other dimensions proportional.
Apple has used a 3.5-inch screen since introducing the iPhone in 2007.
Early production of the new screens has begun at three suppliers: Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd, Sharp Corp and Japan Display Inc, a Japanese government-brokered merger combining the screen production of three companies.
It is likely all three of the screen suppliers will get production orders from Apple, which could begin as soon as June.
That would allow the new iPhone to go into production as soon as August, if the company follows its own precedent in moving from orders for prototypes for key components to launch
Apple’s decision to equip the next iPhone with a larger screen represents part of a competitive response to Samsung, which unveiled its top-of-the line Galaxy smartphone with a 4.8-inch touch-screen and a faster processor earlier this month.
With consumers becoming more and more comfortable using smartphones for tasks they once performed on laptops, like watching video, other smartphone manufacturers have also moved toward bigger displays.
A likely shakeup in the design of a larger-screen iPhone could go a long way in boosting its ‘wow’ factor, convincing fans to trade in their old iPhones for new ones, said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee.
‘Not only do users pay for features, but they also pay for aesthetics and design. That’s as important, or more important, than features,’ Mr Wu said.
‘People love the current design — but it’s 18 months old.’
The latest iPhone 4S was introduced in October of last year and essentially has the same form factor as the iPhone 4, launched in 2010.
Samsung, which this year became the world’s largest mobile phone maker, sold 45million smartphones in the first quarter, and sales of the Galaxy phones outstripped the iPhone.
In addition to being Apple’s rival, Samsung is also a major components supplier to the U.S. computer, tablet and phone manufacturer.
The share of the production of new screens that go to each of the three manufacturers working with Apple has not been determined, one source said.
Sales of the touchscreen iPhone now account for about one-half of Apple’s total sales, and the phone has been a key source of growth for the company in Asia.
A report in March by a South Korea business newspaper said Apple would use a ‘retina’ display on the next iPhone, the same technology in its latest iPad that enhance image quality.
With the hotly expected iPhone release winding the internet rumour mill up to full speed, one of the more unusual pieces of Apple related gossip claims that Mr Jobs was very interested in designing a car towards the end of his life.
Mickey Drexler, the CEO of J.Crew and a member of Apple’s board, told Business Insider this week that Mr Jobs’s ‘dream’ shortly prior to his death was to design an ‘iCar’.
Mr Drexler goes on to claim that if Mr Jobs had got around to designing such an automobile, it would have been likely to take 50 per cent of the market.