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Apple Patents 'Buy Stuff Wirelessly, Skip Lines' Tech

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the be-nice-if-we-ever-see-it dept.

Wireless (Apple) 254

An anonymous reader writes "Apple is looking to patent a process that will save customers the hassle of waiting to order a cup of coffee at a local Starbucks. Even better: The technology would let you jump the line of those ordering in person. 'Customers might tap a button to order their favorite drink, say a double-shot mocha, as they stroll up to the nearest coffee shop. When the drink is ready go to, the device--such as an iPhone--would chime or blink to let the thirsty one know it's time to scoop up the order at the counter. The patent puts Apple's partnership with Starbucks in a new light. The technology promises to morph Apple from the business of simply selling gadgets and music and movies that can be played on those devices into an intermediary in all kinds of exchanges.'"

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Obvious patents (5, Insightful)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833768)

I think this is an obvious patent. Wish I would have decided to be a lawyer instead of a technical person. My retirement would be much better.

Re:Obvious patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21833806)

Seems pretty novel to me. Who is doing this already with mobile apps?

Re:Obvious patents (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834030)

You are, every time you place an order via a web-based client from a mobile device. I did so a few weeks ago from my local Papa John's. Hell, calling in a take-out order from the restaurant of your choice would probably qualify as prior art.

Replacing a human component with a piece of software shouldn't be considered novel enough to patent.

Re:Obvious patents (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834230)

Plus Zaxby's already passes out little pagers after you order-- then you go get your drink, pick a table, wait for the lights to flash and go pick up your order. If you had ordered in advance by phone or internet, you would have this already at Zaxby's.

Re:Obvious patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21833882)

but then it wouldn't be too obvious to you.

niggerdicks making their way up your rectum (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21833934)


Re:niggerdicks making their way up your rectum (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834004)

Your patent application has been denied due to prior art on the part of your mom.

It's just a freakin' reservation system (5, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833944)

This is obvious, let me count the ways.

In the 1980s, I could walk up to an ATM machine, tap a few buttons, and order airline tickets. This put me ahead of the people standing in line at the ticket counter.

Today, I can walk up to a kiosk and order movie tickets, which puts me ahead of those waiting in line.

Decades ago, I could call a restaurant and reserve a table, putting me ahead of those who were in line to tell the waiter that they needed a table.

Re:It's just a freakin' reservation system (5, Funny)

Leftist Troll (825839) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834462)

No, no, this is completely different from any of those things. Now you'll be using Apple products and services, so it will all be inherently much better in a magical way that can't be described using pathetic human words.

Re:It's just a freakin' reservation system (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834700)

Yes, because with Apple, patents Just Work.

Re:It's just a freakin' reservation system (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834530)

And there's a tag I can buy that allows me to "order" my "favorite" lane on the toll roads and pass by the losers using cash.

Re:Obvious patents (4, Insightful)

vimh42 (981236) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834204)

Forget about the patent being obvious. If I'm standing in line, and some idiot comes into the store and gets their drink first because they ordered it with their iPhone, do you think I'm going to have anything nice to say when I have a little chat with the manager about customer service? Don't you think that type of problem is a little obvious?

Re:Obvious patents (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834276)

What is the problem?
I do this all the time. My local grocery store deli takes phone orders. I often call them when I am in the store and place my order. They have a line for phone orders. I often see a huge line and I just call in my order, finish the rest of my shopping and pick up my sub.
I also have a few restaurants in my cell phone that I go to often. They allow you to call ahead to reserve your place in line. I call when I leave my house and often I have no wait for a table.
I thought using technology was a good thing.

Re:Obvious patents (2, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834406)

I think the main reason for registering such a patent is most likely defensive. Apple have had lots of experience being hammered in stupid patent suites, as have many tech companies, so if they have a patent, however vague, they can use it to prevent expensive lawsuits.

Not that this justifies silly patents, but it does provide a reason for their registration.

Re:Obvious patents (1)

be-fan (61476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834448)

What's wrong with that? They get their drink first because they _ordered_ it first.

Re:Obvious patents (1)

ReclusiveGeek (1115223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834362)

Amen. Even MORE obvious day-to-day activities made into a "patent". They just don't get that offering it up under the guise of a patent doesn't make it all that clever. Call this one bullshit.

Unbelievable (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833772)

I haven't read the whole patent, and I don't intend to do so. I'm sure there is some very specific crap in there to somehow make this 'different' and 'patentable'. But the truth of the matter is that patenting the process is asinine. I buy pizza this way all the time and have been doing so for a while. I order it and pay online. I walk in, give my name and get my order. I don't wait in line.
I may have to stop reading any story dealing with patents because the whole thing has just gone completely beyond insane. The only upside I can see is that I could start going to starbucks with a pda in hand, wait to see some tasty drink put out for pickup and snag it before the rightful owner. Free drinks.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833910)

Maybe the part about notification when it's ready is important here. Otherwise, everything else has already been done.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833952)

I get an email back about my pizza. That's close enough for me. I wonder what this will look like for the starbucks employees. I was joking about stealing drinks myself but I can't see how this wont make such activity trivial for the less morally inhibited among us.

Re:Unbelievable (1, Flamebait)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833964)

track your pizza [] from Papa John's to your doorstep.

Re:Unbelievable (2, Informative)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834222)

Maybe the part about notification when it's ready is important here. Otherwise, everything else has already been done.

The notifications... [] have been done before, too...

Re:Unbelievable (2, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834318)

I have seen the ordering system in a Spanish restaurant in the middle of nowhere (Los Gigantes - a small resort on the west coast of Tenerife) do that in 2005. So there is plenty of prior art.

IIRC, all orders were taken on small wireless palmtops (probably some variety of ruggedized palm with custom software). The order was transmitted to the kitchen straight away and the waiter could service the next table and so on instead of running like mad between the table rows and the kitchen (as customary). When an order was ready for collection the palmtop rang. As a result 3 waiters managed to deal with a restaurant which had at least 45 tables, probably more.

Dunno who did the software for them, but a few years back it would have been an impressive feat of engineering. With all the limitations of PalmOS and such doing this would have required a lot of effort.

Doing the same as a web based app for something like the iPhone is a piece of cake. Depending on the complexity of the interface into the ordering system it can take from a couple of hours to at most a couple of weeks.

What is more interesting is where does this put T-Mobile partnership with Starbucks. It could have done that using any of their handhelds like the sidekick ages ago and it has suitable GSM/GPRS interface as well. Bet they are slapping themselves on the forehead at the moment.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834746)

The fact that it was done at a Spanish restaurant does not make it prior art for U.S. purposes. If it was known in the U.S. before Apple "invented" it, that counts. The Spanish prior art will only be available if somebody described it in a printed publication (that can be anywhere in the world).

Re:Unbelievable (5, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833936)

Repeat after me: any patent which is summarized by a reporter relates in no way to the actual patent. Unless you've read the entire patent or at least ALL of the claims, you have no idea what the patent is about. Typically I can find at least 3 ways to summarize even really good and innovative patents that would make people pick up their pitchforks and torches. It's just too easy to do, and it turns out that it gets Slashdot some extra readership. :-/

Re:Unbelievable (2, Insightful)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834422)

The fact that you "can find at least 3 ways to summarize even really good and innovative patents" should tell you that the patent in question is neither good nor innovative.

Re:Unbelievable (0, Flamebait)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834518)

What's more, even from the description I'm sure some of what's being described is non-trivial. If they can get this sort of thing working properly, they deserve a patent.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834114)

I may have to stop reading any story dealing with patents because the whole thing has just gone completely beyond insane.
What part of "somebody is making a lot of money off this, albeit neither of us" did you specifically think was "beyond insane"?
I suppose the dissonance between what the patent system was intended to do, and what it has become is rather breathtaking, but "beyond insane"?

Re:Unbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834244)


Nuclear Pakistan is descending into anarchy and all you people care about is cutting in line at Starbucks?

The dogs of war are upon us.

Re:Unbelievable (2, Funny)

Four_One_Nine (997288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834452)

Point taken. I will no longer cut in line at any Starbucks located in Pakistan.

Re:Unbelievable (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834284)

I do one better. I order my pizza online, and get alerted by a ding-dong sound in my house when the pizza is ready. Then I just walk up to the door and take my pizza. I even connect to the internet wirelessly to do make the order. I don't use an iPhone and the pizza place isn't a Starbucks though, so I can see how its totally different.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834532)

First off snagging a cup of coffee because it's sitting on a counter is thieft. There may be a debate about IP and downloading but I don't think there's a debate about taking physical items. Just because Brittany does it, steals a lighter in front of the paparazzi, doesn't make it alright.

I'm curious about the patent. I'm assuming it relates specifically proprietary software and hardware that they developed as in a long range goal with the iPhones. They seem to want to expand it over time into a personal assisstent rather than just a PDA with a phone. It's not the patent so much as the deals that they are making may be questionable. The deals may leave competition out in the cold. The problem we are facing may be are the old views on monopolies may no longer be sustainable. Competition was always a good thing when the playing field was level and the laws governing monopolies were to keep that playing field level. That model has been shattered by free trade. People in the US can't live as cheaply as people in other countries so there is simply no way for them to compete. A level playing field means everyone has to live in a third world economy because there are limited resources. Remember we've been exceeding available resources since the early 80s. How this applies to this issue is what's the true market and can it sustain more than one competitor or do they simply get into a throat cutting contest? Look at satelite radio. There's only two companies competing yet neither can turn a profit. Their only hope of survival is probably a merger but the law doesn't allow for it. The service itself may have to go away because of existing laws. On the other hand I find things like media mergers a very scary thing and we may be seeing the death of the press as we've known it. Already we have blond bimbos and male models reading the news on most stations where as back in the day they were actual reporters. Yeah they didn't look so good and they often drank too much but they knew their subject and did most of their own reporting. Watching the White House Press Secretary stare blankly when she was asked about the Cuban Missile Crisis drove that home. Being a perky blond doesn't mean you're qualified to work in news other than running for coffee. I'd rather have an over weight chain smoker that did serious reporting.

With this type of sales system it may cause chaos having multiple companies competing for the market. Imagine with the Blu-Ray HD battle only with a hundred standards fighting to survive? There may need to be a single standard but there's no organization in place to create the standard. Even if there was history tells us it would take years and potentially decades to establish one. If one company is going to put the time and money into establishing the system then their stockholders are going to expect to benefit from that investment. So long as it doesn't end up costing more for the customer, due to a lack of competition then I don't really see the harm. The real purpose behind anti monopoly laws was to keep one company from dictating what you'd pay for goods or services. Ultimately the government may have to accept some monopolies and provide oversight inorder to keep progress moving forward. The obvious argument is we can't trust government or they aren't competent. Well guess what, next time you vote for these idiots look in a mirror. I get tired of the argument that the government is too incompetent to be trusted to run anything bigger than a lemonaide stand. We should have the best minds running the government, we pay them enough. We can't trust or depend on government so long as people keep electing Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel to run the country. Just because they slap a suit on them and stand them up there doesn't mean you have to vote for them. The old saying "you can't give a monkey a gun and blame him when he shoots some one" applies here. You want people to pass meaningful patent reform then elect them. You can't elect some one that can't spell the word and expect change.

Re:Unbelievable (4, Insightful)

Zordak (123132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834686)

I'm sure there is some very specific crap in there to somehow make this 'different' and 'patentable'.
If so, then that "very specific crap" will limit the claims to make them allowable. A patent does not give you the right to prohibit anybody from doing anything that looks like the abstract. It's limited by the claims, which have to be patentable over prior art. Until you've read and carefully examined the claims, you have not idea what the "patent" is.

Obvious? (2, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833780)

I mean honestly, how different is this to dialing ahead with your order from a cell phone? That uses wireless technology to skip queues & waiting too.

Well done Apple - patent innovation the Microsoft/Amazon way!

Re:Obvious? (4, Insightful)

xRelisH (647464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833920)

mean honestly, how different is this to dialing ahead with your order from a cell phone?

Umm, I have a few:
1. I'd rather order through a readable UI with touch screen than having to repeat myself several times over the phone due to poor signal or noise where I am. I always order pizza from my computer, ordering through similar means on something mobile would be more convenient.
2. The store would need to hire someone on the phone to take the order. Having a person actually there helps when ordering in person for ambiance, but when you're ordering over the phone, it's annoying... and don't get me started with those voice activated systems. I'd rather be able to select what I want through a digital menu.
3. If this system is tied into a billing system like how .Mac is, then this saves me another hassle of having to say my credit card information over the phone or have to whip it out and slide at the counter.

Re:Obvious? (1, Insightful)

provigilman (1044114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833990)

Exactly, this is quite different from the old "Pick up the phone and call in for a pizza." You're talking a completely encapsulated ordering interface, WiFi connection, order queue interrupt (to bump yours into the queue for those barristas to make) and a billing system. It's like saying that a cell phone is obvious tech because you had a landline for years.

The major question that this article doesn't answer though, is will there be a virtual tip jar???

Re:Obvious? (1)

provigilman (1044114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834066)

Oh, and in case some smartass tries to say "Well cell phones and land lines are completely different things", then let me use a better example. It's like saying that cell phones are obvious tech and not worth a patent because of wireless "walkie talkies".

Thing is, while they bear some similarities to each other because they both transmit wirelessly and they make use of signal variance to reach different users, they're completely different. Just like ordering from your PC/Phone and driving over there is very different than hitting a button on your iPhone that automatically orders your drink and adds it to your tab.

Re:Obvious? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834270)

How about going with 'Ordering a pizza online.' They don't have to hire someone for the phone, it's built into the billing system, inserted into the queue automatically.

Apple took the standard "...over the internet" patent addendum and tossed in "wirelessly."

Re:Obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834482)

cell phones are obvious tech and not worth a patent because of wireless "walkie talkies".

Thats because cellphones do a completely different thing from walkie talkies (IE, point to point network usable by more than one person at a time, etc). Now, here's my question: does someone have a patent over the "push to talk" "walkie talkie" feature found on some phones, and is that "novel" and deserving of a patent because it's a walkie talkie... ON THE INT^H^H^HCELL PHONE!

Re:Obvious? (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833930)

Here, here! As much as Apple implies it is not like Microsoft, they certainly seem to borrow plenty from the latter's play book. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Re:Obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834444)

Here, here!
Unless you're trying to lure an alien queen away from its prey, the proper term is, "Hear, hear!" as in "Listen to that person."

Re:Obvious? Mexican... (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833978)

Jumping Beans?

THIS patent gives the BEAN COUNTERS something to do with their COUNTER TOPS. AND, to boot, they get to SELL cookies while COUNTING and tracking cookies.

Gives a new meaning to "mad dash" for the coffee.

Re:Obvious? (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834258)

I mean honestly, how different is this to dialing ahead with your order from a cell phone? That uses wireless technology to skip queues & waiting too.

Its not much different in outline, its different only in the mechanics of implementation. Of course, patents don't cover outlines, they cover mechanics of implementation, so noticing that this is similar but in the mechanics of implementation is not really a good argument against patentability. The broad outline is fairly obvious, but without reading the actual patent (rather than a popular media report that provides no useful information) I don't have much opinion on whether the specific claims and method patented is obvious.

I would guess that its either so obvious that it should be unpatentable or, if its non-obvious, there are so many ways to implement the same user experience as to make the patent mostly useless except for defensive purposes. But which one of those, I can't guess.

iTunes==Apple Checkout? (4, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833796)

You can already buy video from the iTunes store so why not an over priced cup of coffee?
Now if Apple can just get a GPS into the next iPhone it will be complete.
You tap the starbucks icon and it finds the nearest Starbucks. You then get a menu select what you want and then you are good to go.
You then get a text message when it is done.
Could work for just about any restaurant. My cell phone already searches for gas by price and then can give me turn by turn directions to the station.

Re:iTunes==Apple Checkout? (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833998)

Searching for gas by price... how much disparity is there where you live? Around here, it's usually not more than a few cents a gallon within any reasonable driving distance (that is, the distance beyond which any savings you would realize are consumed by the extra gas spent.) And unless you are filling up by the hundreds of gallons, you won't save any measurable amount of cash by 'shopping around' for gas. So I am curious...

Re:iTunes==Apple Checkout? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834142)

Actually as much as 15 cents and sometimes within just a few blocks of one another. Yesterday I saw one place that had gas at 2.97 a gallon just a few blocks from a station that had gas at 3.17 a gallon.
It is more handy when you are traveling. The gas station right on the exits tends to be pretty pricey and not every exit has a station.
And of course it gives me the price and the distance to the station.

Re:iTunes==Apple Checkout? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834556)

Wow, 15 cents you say?

So if you fill up with (let's say) 15 gallons, you saved a whole $2.15! And thats not taking into account any extra driving required to get to the cheaper station.

If 2 bucks is worth enough to you to go through that much trouble, may I suggest you stop driving and finish paying off that trailer you put on layaway?

Re:iTunes==Apple Checkout? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834534)

You can already buy video from the iTunes store so why not an over priced cup of coffee?
Since you are doing all the work of placing the order and paying for it online, how much of a discount do you get?
I still don't understand why people pay $6 for a cup of coffee. Coffee is supposed to be $0.50 and unlimited refills.

UGh, this is not a new "idea" (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833808)

This idea has been explored in Science fiction a lot, I remember one outer limits where the people considered others of their social group "retarded" for not being able to order ahead electronically.

Also, don't the Japanese already do this with their cell phone technology? Does Japanese prior art count?

Re:UGh, this is not a new "idea" (1)

minvaren (854254) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834364)

"Stream of Consciousness" [] is the Outer Limits episode you refer to.

Re:UGh, this is not a new "idea" (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834540)

If this properly describes what Apple's patent application wants to claim, then this book is valid prior art. You may recall a Mythbuster's episode where they raised a sunken ship with pingpong balls. This was in an earlier Donald Duck comic, and the patent got only saved by the specific way of getting the balls down, but the general principle could no longer be claimed.

I'm a patent agent, and this software patent stuff irritates me to no end. So, there is nothing to stop you from sending a copy of the relevant pages of that book, together with details such as when it was published, title etc. to the USPTO together. Don't forget to mention the patent application number and state that it shouldn't be granted in view of the enclosed prior art. I'm a certified Apple fanboi, but any patent that doesn't qualify as Inventive shouldn't be granted, which should make software patents fair game.


Re:UGh, this is not a new "idea" (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834506)

Does Japanese prior art count?

Yes. And if you are too poor to afford your own translator, than a shitty mistranslation of Japanese prior art counts...

IANAL, nor am I bitter.

Fandango... (3, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833834)

Hmmm I go to their website, buy a ticket. Then when I get to the movie theater I go to the "Fandango Only" line, bypassing the other people, get my tickets and go in.

Re:Fandango... ie CROOKS (1)

Karja (1017504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833914)

yes, and then you can be signed up for an automatic $10/month charge for an "advantage" program you'd never know about unless you carefully cheacked your statements, and for which they won't return the money without legal threats/involvement.

Yuck (2, Insightful)

jimmy_dean (463322) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833864)

I love Apple and their products (I have 2 Macs and an iPod), but this is ridiculous. I can't believe the patent system allows this. Who are these people in charge of granting patents who get suckered into thinking this is a unique, tangible product? Patents are for recuperating costs (among other uses), where are Apple's costs in developing this idea?

Re:Yuck (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834526)

Their think-tank ordered a pizza one slow night, and went "HEY! We can patent THAT!"

Prior art? (2, Funny)

sokoban (142301) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833884)

There is a local 24 hour diner that I sometimes eat at late at night. Generally from 2:00 AM onwards, there is a huge drunk crowd. I place my order over the phone so that when I get there I don't have to wait in line to order. Sometimes, if there is a long line and I didn't expect one, I call from my table to place my order. When my order is ready, the wait staff yells out my name, wirelessly no less, to notify me that my order is ready.

Re:Prior art? (3, Insightful)

zullnero (833754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834360)

There's more prior art than that. A whole freaking lot more. I've personally interviewed and worked with several companies that have practically patented almost the exact same concept. Using a mobile device to buy stuff wirelessly is a concept that has been around for many years. There are patents all over the place in regards to this idea, and the biggest problem is actually implementing something without tripping one of them off. You need to do such and such for security scheme x, but that's already patented by so and so...etc.

It's a bloody mess, so Mac fans...don't get your hopes up. I know a lot of you are suddenly all pumped about this smartphone revolution that has been around a lot longer than your iPhone...but this particular market is a minefield. Wonder why you haven't seen much out of Palm lately? Everywhere you turn, there's another freaking patent in your face and another guy or corporation who is sitting on it looking to make his quick fortune. That is why REAL innovation is slowing down so much in the mobile market. Either you innovate and risk the lawsuits, or you try and work around the patents, and you never get anything done.

And if you don't like it, then get up and do something about the US patent system.

That's all well and good but.. (1)

dgun (1056422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833886)

As a minimalist, I make my own coffee. So, I would like my coffee maker to send a text message to my cell phone.

YCIR, lolz!@11!

Re:That's all well and good but.. (3, Informative)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833980)

Then you'll need to read up on RFC 2324 [] .

dumb idea (5, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833892)

There's one problem though. If customers did it that way then they wouldn't get to act like a douche at the counter about the staff getting their 10 word drink correct nor would they get to feel all special ordering a 10 word drink out loud. One of my college teachers used to work at a Starbucks and trust me he said, "People really are like that. Every one of them." They don't want convenience and speed, they wanna walk in and act like the most self important dick in the world and pretend they're rich by spending like $8 on a coffee. If you take that away, they'll stop coming!

Re:dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834000)

At least your teacher wasn't bitter about working two jobs.

Re:dumb idea (4, Funny)

Sciros (986030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834140)

I call BS! I buy coffee, more specifically a White Chocolate Mocha With Soy Milk And Caramel On Top at Starbucks ALL THE TIME (because I'm rich) and half the time there's a customer there who is not at all what you describe. He's just there for some tea (me, I don't even say "tea" anymore I just say "Tazo" because that probably means 'tea' in Mexican or something anyway) or something and stares at the menu for like a whole minute like a clueless moron and then has trouble figuring out that a Grande is medium not large what a dolt.

Re:dumb idea (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834744)

Man, I have the same problem at Quiznos. It's just easier for everyone involved when I order a "For Here, Regular Classic Italian, On Wheat, No Vegetables Except Lettuce", and then stare menacingly at the staff to make sure they get it right. (FACT: They always do. And if I didn't specify all of that at once they would ask me, "is that for here or to go?" "What size?" "Which sandwich?" "White bread or wheat?" "Olives and tomatoes?" I hear Starbucks does the same thing if you just try to order coffee.)

Re:dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834162)

That is exactly what this is about. They get to feel really important going the to "cool iphone owners only" line and picking up the drink that was pre-made for them. I doubt it will catch on. Sometimes the drink will be cold, sometimes it won't be ready, sometimes a customer in the regular line will stick out a foot and trip the idiot...

Re:dumb idea (1)

colganc (581174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834256)

A person I knew worked at a Starbucks and said to me, "People really are like that. Every one of them." lulz.

You missed the part (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834582)

where they do it from an iPhone. So they still get to act like a rich self important dick.

Re:dumb idea (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834658)

nor would they get to feel all special ordering a 10 word drink out loud.

Exactly. That's the entire point of Starbucks. It's an ego boost. It's not about coffee.

That's why expresso machines are made to look complex and to require so much manual attention. The job could be done better by a microprocessor with a few sensors and actuators, and often it is [] ; the manual stuff is mostly for drama.

That business is about experience, not product. Faster order processing isn't the point.

Re:dumb idea (1)

mwasham (1208930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834708)

Well being a Mac FanBoy/iPhone user they are likely to announce that due to their superior technology they are able to cut in line in front of all the poor losers.. So don't worry about the arrogance factor going away ;)

Overly specialized and mostly useless (1)

Torinaga-Sama (189890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833908)

In the given example if I was in line at this Starbucks of the future and some trendy yob talking on a phone walks in the door gets his mocha and leaves while I am standing there waiting for someone to take my order I would probably fight off the urge to pop someone in the nose and just walk out the door to a smaller mom an pop type place where I can still get some personal service.

Bear in mind that I am techie and that is how I would react, imagine what your dad would do.

I can see this for ordering a pizza, but you know you can already do that with most of the major vendors. What exactly IS new about this?

Re:Overly specialized and mostly useless (5, Funny)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833974)

My dad wouldn't do that, because he's dead. Anyway, being dead, he wouldn't be caught dead in a Starbucks.

Re:Overly specialized and mostly useless (1)

Torinaga-Sama (189890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834178)

Obviously, a man of taste and distinction.

My condolences.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21833926)

all I have to do now is wait for the phone to tell me that the coffee is ready, as long it's all high tech stuff I'm happy to wait. God forbid I have to talk to or socialize with the people in line, Starbucks employees, or friends.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834090)

Um, you do realize that 99.9% of the human race sucks, right? The less interaction with fellow mouth-breathers, the better.

I sip my coffee thank you very much (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834148)

I can't speak for the rest of the human race.

Sort of Unique (1)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833938)

This isn't anything ground breaking. Many resturants that I go to with long lines will give customers a small device (similar to a pager) that notifies them when they are first in line (or a table is ready for them). This patent seems to take that idea one step further by allowing you to order and then notifying you when it is ready to pick up. It's similar to what somebody else pointed out: that they have been ordering pizzas online for a long time and stroll in to pick them up whenever they want.

Apple Out of New Ideas? Scary! (1)

wdhowellsr (530924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21833996)

This is only one of possibly dozens of pre-existing patents. How about the Shell Gas Station rfid? That's been around for a least three to five million years! Just One Patent. []

There are examples of prior uses. TK Noodle, fyi. (1)

digital photo (635872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834022)

I've seen the waiters at TK Noodle doing this for years now. Remote keypad system for taking and making orders.

Unless they're patenting the "skipping ahead of line" part...

Re:There are examples of prior uses. TK Noodle, fy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834480)

Unless they're patenting the "skipping ahead of line" part...

Shit .. I got prior art on that one since grade school.

Where's the bottleneck? (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834040)

At most Starbucks I've been to, the bottleneck is not the ordering process, it's the order fulfillment side of things - That's where they're backed up.

This seems to contrast with McDonald's, where the bottleneck is taking the orders (too many people don't start trying to decide what they want until they step up to the counter). As a result, here in Vancouver, Canada, lots of McDonalds have staff with wireless PDAs, wandering down the queues taking orders. When you get to the till all you have to do is pay and pick up your oder. They also wander down the queue at the drive through doing the same thing.

Re:Where's the bottleneck? (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834180)

but now they can take your dough before the bottleneck, incentivising you to remain in line (duh, when everyone's using this the mobile line will be longer than the in person line.) Net result, fuller fulfillment queue and lower risk of employee idle time.

I, for one, miss my robotic overlords. Vacation and employee relations were better.

Order numbers (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834074)

So on your mobile phone you could have the following scenario.

1. Please select if you want tea/coffee?
2. Do you want that in regular / half-caf / decaf?
3. You you want milk/extra cream with that?
4. Do you want more than one of the same drink?
5. Do you want to add other drinks to the order...
6. ...

We're sorry, your phone experienced a buffer overflow with the order number, get to a web browser on and type the unique order number 659876543649746549876531 and it will be ready for you in store. Have a nice day.

countdown to domain registration (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834196)

How many minutes before someone registered and redirects to the local coffee-house?

WaWa - prior art (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834110)

Although it's not *exactly* as Apple described, WaWa (world's most amazing convenience store/deli chain on the east coast) has had something similar for taking deli orders for a few years. You can't pay with it (although the capability has reportedly been there for some time), but it does take care of the rest of the ordering process.

WaWa's system isn't particularly novel, but then again, neither is Apple's (which also doesn't deal particularly well with theft).

When the drink is ready go to... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834112)

Lysdexia?? []

Fight! (1)

petehead (1041740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834164)

I can't wait to see a fight break out because someone has been waiting in line for 15 minutes and Mr. iphone walks in and gets served.

That being said, how about they get this to work for fastpass and other services at Disneyland.

Apple: Microsoft without the Love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834218)

My local PC shop has been doing a similar thing for a couple of years. Sorry Apple: Your Patent Troll fails, but I'm sure Cleetus at the USPTO has already issued your patent.

Misses the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834254)

But... I love flirting with the staff at Starbucks. I certainly don't go for the coffee D:

Jumped the Shark (3, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834266)

1995 called...and wanted to remind Apple what happened the last time they got away from their core business of making computers and operating system software.

It's a common downfall. Corporation X makes money doing something well, but either gets greedy, or starts to saturate the market...and looks elsewhere for revenue. Corporation X starts to spread to thin, outside its 'comfort zone', and abuses the trust consumers placed in the brand name. The brand name devalues. Company X finds itself competing against an upstart that is focused, and because its brand name has devalued, its high-margin items aren't selling.

If you want to see a great example of this, look at Nintendo: despite the might of Microsoft, the Xbox 360 isn't what people are desperate to get their hands on, and the Wii isn't having problems with its online service. Nintendo is making money hand over fist on the Wii, and Microsoft just lost almost TWO BILLION DOLLARS on the Xbox division. [] Meanwhile, Vista is an absolute disaster, and the world is gunning for Office.

I look at Apple and see warning signs too. Leopard's release *stunk*. There were the simplest bugs; they still haven't fixed an issue that causes the hard drive controller to lock up, and it took weeks for the fix to the "everything gets deleted if a file move to another volume fails" bug. The finder navigation related to file server volumes absolutely SUCKS, and frankly- the rest of the hundred-plus features are nothing but glitz, or grossly overdue (like workgroup calendaring.) About the only thing that was improved was Spotlight...

Make it so. (1)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834348)

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

bwa, ha, ha! (1)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834352)

If the Apple stores (real ones, like on the street) are any reference point, this point of sale system will be a piece of shit (thus finally unifying the POS acronym). I have never gotten through the register line in less than 10 minutes, even when there's only one person ahead of me. Then just try paying cash in an Apple store, and watch what happens--only one worker among them can do a cash transaction, and she's tied up on someone else's transactino.

Excellent... (1)

Doonga2007 (1049016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834356)

I can buy an overpriced cup of coffee with my overpriced phone. What a deal!
Note: I've played with an iPhone, it's cool, too bad it costs so much.

Grr (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834396)

Zonk, for the love of Pete Townsend, please stop using hyphens in lieu of commas or parentheses! It is - without a doubt - highly annoying!

(And I realize that the summaries are usually written by the submitters, but this makes two in a row with the same mind-crushing usage)

nnice taggots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21834400)

good thing the tagging system only allows screened, registered users to post.

we stopped all that hot grits nonsense, but i guess calling people a homophobic slur is ok.

Apple doesn't care what you think (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834410)

You're scooping their products and services up at ever growing rates. Ranting about anything Apple does is like ranting about the Government; if you just bitch and aren't willing to follow through with action(i.e. stop using their products) then it's just a bunch of hot air.

Their stock just hit $200/share for the first time...the do not CARE what any of you think about their practices.

This is new? (2, Insightful)

cgreentx (990146) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834558)

Yes.. Everyone is saying practically the same thing here, but I've ordered items from the browser on my cell phone at Best Buy and Circuit City while standing at the Customer Service counter because the idiot managers refused to order their online prices... Minutes later my order was pulled and I got, imagine this, notification on my phone via email that my order was ready. Highly innovative there Apple.

Compare this with how Microsoft thinks - Surface (1)

dircha (893383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834600)

This is the difference in how Apple thinks vs how Microsoft thinks.

Microsoft's solution to this problem - Microsoft Surface - is to say here's a huge, $10,000 table that customers can order from; replace all your diner's tables with Microsoft tables.

Apple says, hey, wait a second, you don't need some huge, stupid table that has the very best interior design aesthetic Microsoft can offer, no, since everyone already carries a cell phone, why don't we just let you order and pay from your cell phone too?

Now which company do you think is the wiser long term investment?

Seriously (1)

warrior_s (881715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834614)

I think Microsoft's surface PC [] already does this.. although in a slightly different way.. but the idea is same... just give the order without waiting in line and while sitting at your table.

Now there's news. (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834664)

The Starbucks customer who thinks that ordering "coffee" you can't taste over the other 6 ingredients makes them look cool / sophisticated are some of the same folks who think that standing in line flashing around an Apple product makes them look sophisticated. It's another form of conspicuous consumption enabled by lifestyle marketing. Essentially, it's not much different than that staple of introductory Anthropology courses, Malinowski's description of Trobriand yam cultivation / display.,M1 []

But hey, we Westerners are so much above all that. So, instead of wasting something that anyone can grow, we can use an obsolete-when-you-buy-it consumer electronic doodad to buy a cup of coffee (often lousy). Wow!

Actual patent information (1)

mosch (204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21834706)

If you want to read the actual 64 claims, check out the Patent [] .

I'm all for patent outrage, but this one isn't a good example, unless you're against all IP protection, everywhere.
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