Apple (AAPL) Wins Patent for All-Glass Phone, TV or Home Devices

PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past the Apple Inc. Store on Fifth Avenue in New York, Jan. 11, 2011.

Apple fans may one day have the option to buy an all-glass exterior television, mobile device or gaming device.

A tech company's patent filings doesn't always pique the curiosity of Morningstar analyst Brian Colello, but Apple's latest filing certainly did.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office approved Apple's patent for all-glass electronic device housings using a "glass fusing process" this week. In Apple's 29-page patent application, as first reported by Apple Insider, the filing included several drawings, some of which followed the shape of an iPhone, while others take the shape of external hard drives.

PHOTO: New Apple patent
United States Patent Office
PHOTO: New Apple patent

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In its explanation of possible uses, Apple says that the devices that use this encasement "may be a monitor, a monitor with an integrated computer, a television, or other electronic equipment." Other devices bandied around include a "tablet computer, gaming device, navigation device, etc."

In this latest patent filing, Apple seems to emphasize the smooth lines and light weight typical in its products. The company's description states that while "glass strength and aesthetics can sometimes be enhanced by using sufficiently glass layers," the "size and weight of a device should not be excessive."

PHOTO: Apple Computer Inc. unveils faster iMac desktop computers July 18, 2001 at its Macworld trade show in New York City.
Apple/Getty Images
PHOTO: Apple Computer Inc. unveils faster iMac desktop computers July 18, 2001 at its Macworld trade show in New York City.

Apple first introduced the iMac "G3" in 1998, with plastic transparency and color to computer design. The all-in-one desktop devices allowed users to say goodbye to having a monitor on their desk and computer drive at their feet.

"It’s certainly possible that we could see an all-glass iOS or Mac device someday. I wouldn’t rule out anything with Apple. But I wouldn’t expect this type of product any time soon based on a single patent filing," Colello said.

Colello said it's very difficult to speculate on what a single patent might mean for Apple.

"The one issue to keep in mind for Apple is that it’s one thing to develop an innovative product, but building and developing a supply chain that can mass produces millions, or hundreds of millions, of the device takes time.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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