updated 02:30 pm EST, Mon January 18, 2010
Apple allegedly has weak patent on iPhone input
An apparent leak in the latest episode of Windows Weekly hints that Apple may have pressured Google and HTC into dropping multi-touch from the Nexus One. Citing Google sources, show co-host Leo Laporte says Apple "politely" asked Google to omit support in the US for alleged concerns about its patent portfolio. The iPhone maker supposedly has a 'weak' patent that would cover the Nexus One and sought to avoid a fight knowing that it might lose.
Other tips also suggest that Google has already narrowed down the release date of its CDMA-capable Nexus One for Verizon to March 23rd, or just two days into the official "spring" target release window. The timing hints that a GSM version for Vodafone's frequencies would be ready at or near the same time.
Neither Apple nor Google has yet commented on the rumor.
While as yet unverified, the news is partly supported by the strategy behind the Motorola Droid. In the US, the phone lacks any default multi-touch apps and at most uses third-party apps with the feature. Its European and soon Canadian equivalent, the Milestone, does support multi-touch out of the box despite no differences in hardware.
Apple and Google are believed to have maintained a longstanding informal agreement on such terms to avoid a legal battle that neither considers necessary. However, it also hasn't taken action against Palm, whose Pre and Pixi both support multi-touch in the US. Palm has said it has patents of its own, and critics believe it may be using these as bargaining chips against the prospect of an Apple lawsuit.