Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that Apple has filed a patent application with the USPTO for a hybrid USB/SD port which combines a USB port with SD card slot to save space and make notebooks even slimmer. They say Windows Ultrabook vendors are concerned because they deduce that if Apple obtains the patent, it will once again raise the bar and gain the upper hand in competition for slim notebooks, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.
Lee and Tsai’s sources point out that Apple’s patents for MacBook Air’s wedge-shape industrial design in June 2012 have already forced many brand vendors to now use the design, which can significantly reduce the size and weight of the system, and with the hybrid USB/SD port patent, the laptop ODMs are concerned that it could give Apple more advantages in design.
Lee and Tsai cite Taiwan-based connector maker Kuang Ying commenting that a conventional SD card port has a width of about 27.1mm and a USB port about 13.5mm. However, if the two ports are combined, it would save about 12-13mm of space on a notebooks’ exterior design, allowing either the addition of more functions or a slimmer form factor.
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