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June 18, 2012

DSLR mini-panic: Apple interchangeable system of sorts for iPhone [patent application; updated]

Mini-panic on the streets of DSLR-Ville! Apple has filed a patent application (check the PDF file there for diagrams and details) for a situation where a removable back case for the iPhone will allow the user to reconfigure or swap parts of the imaging systems, which could lead to an interchangeable camera system of sorts for the iPhone. (via Apple Insider)

UPDATE #1 (8:23pm NYC time): Brad pointed out in the comments this is a patent application. The original post said "patented" and "patent" which suggested that a patent had been granted. This is in the patent application stage. This has been corrected!

UPDATE #2 (8:23pm NYC time): The "panic" is not that Apple will get a patent and sue left and right, but that Apple is considering, or R&Ding, or working on an iPhone interchangeable system of sorts. With such a system, more consumers would reduce the priority of an interchangeable lens camera system purchase since "the iPhone can do it". This for the mythical average consumer in general, not in-the-know photographers and gearheads. In the eyes of a mythical consumer, the difference between an interchangeable system of sorts and a proper body-lens interchangeable lens system is not as important as to a photographer/gearhead. Partial case in point the popularity of the various add-on lenses for the iPhones.

More woe for the camera manufacturers, the patent application mentions "high-end cameras" as a preface to what their patent application is proposing. Granted this is just a patent, but what Apple has in mind may perhaps be closer to a GXR/modular than a traditional body-lens interchangeable lens system. This is one of the crucial sentences in the patent:

"It would be desirable to provide a structure for a compact device that allows the end user to reconfigure the optical arrangement of the device while retaining the benefits of assembling the device using a pre-assembled digital imaging subsystem."

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