What’s Apple’s social networking strategy for the iPhone? The company has not said much about this so far, but one clue might be in the trademark applications it is filing in different parts of the world.
According to the blog Patently Apple, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has filed an application with the European Trademarks and Designs Office to trademark services under the world “Places.” (First page illustrated below.)
Today, Apple filed for the the same Places trademark in China as well.
We have contacted Apple to see if the company can provide more clarification and will update this post as we learn more.
According to the blog, Apple has applied in both regions under four “International Class” categories — this is where Apple would specify how and where such a “Places” trademark would get used. The categories are computer hardware, education, entertainment services and social networking.
These categories are catch-all and cover all kinds of things, from downloading music to “multimedia and audio-visual software consulting services.” But Patently Apple focuses in on the fourth of these — social networking — as the key driver of the application: “At the heart of this application, Places is primarily about online social networking services related to a social networking site and will assist in locating people using GPS on Apple’s mobile devices.” It also highlights how this could link up with Ping, the iTunes social networking music service.”
The site notes that this is the second time that Apple has filed for a trademark related to social networking this quarter. The earlier filing was in the U.S. and had to do with an extension of the Apple brand to cover social networking services.
Apple already offers a “Places” service in iPhoto ’09 — this lets a user tag a photo with a location — but PA notes that this is not mentioned in the current application. Combining that with the added class of social networking, “this version of ‘Places’ may be another type of future service.”
Given all the trademark hoo-hah we’ve seen this week over far less generic terms — hello, Xoom and Cha Cha — it’s curious to think that Apple might actually try to launch a distinct service called Places, which is also used very extensively on mobile, perhaps most widely in Facebook’s check-in and deals service, and by Google.