News Column

Patent Issued for Commercially Subsidized Mobile Communication Devices and Services

September 11, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Horvitz, Eric (Kirkland, WA); Huang, Xuedong (Bellevue, WA); Jain, Kamal (Bellevue, WA); Mahajan, Milind Vasudeo (Redmond, WA), filed on December 6, 2012, was published online on August 26, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8818415, is Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "In the field of mobile computing, a mobile device may be capable of providing recommendations for local services. For example, a global positioning system (GPS) device may be configured to receive a query from a user for a particular type of service, such as a particular type of food or the sale of fuel, and to display the names and locations of nearby providers of such services. Similarly, a cellphone phone may permit users to call an information line and receive recommendations for a particular type of service in a specified city and to contact the providers, e.g., to inquire about the provided services and the hours of operation. A GPS-equipped cellphone device may provide both such capabilities by locating the current position of the user, displaying nearby providers of selected services, and allowing the user to contact the providers."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key factors or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.

"While mobile communication devices may be configured both to locate nearby providers of a desired service and to contact the providers, the provision of such services to the user may be costly. As a first example, such capabilities may entail comparatively sophisticated hardware and software, including a GPS receiver or other geolocation device, mapping hardware or software, a high-quality display that may render useful maps, and cellular communications hardware. Moreover, the user may wish to communicate with providers of such services in other ways, such as by visiting the websites of the providers, and the mobile communication device may comprise a robust processor, a significant amount of higher-performance memory, Internet communications infrastructure (e.g., a TCP/IP protocol stack), a general-purpose web browser, and various input mechanisms (e.g., a hardware keyboard or a touchscreen coupled with a software keyboard.) This equipment may result in a higher cost of the mobile communication device that is too expensive for some users. As a second example, such capabilities involve comparatively high service charges; e.g., communications with providers of the solicited services may be charged against a user's per-minute metered call plan for the duration of a call to a service provider or a per-kilobyte metered internet access plan for visiting the websites of various providers. This consumption of the user's metered data services may be too expensive for many users, thereby diminishing or preventing these users' participation in the provider search services. As a third example, the mobile communication device may not even have a general-purpose communication interface that is accessible to the user (or the costs associated therewith), but may be configured to communicate only with providers of a solicited service.

"One technique that may be implemented to address these cost problems involves a subsidization of the search service by the potential providers of such services. For example, part or all of the costs of the mobile communication device may be subsidized by the providers of such services, and/or the charge of a metered data plan for a communication session established between a user and a provider of a solicited service may be partly or wholly charged to the provider instead of to the user. The mobile communication device may therefore be configured to support the charging of some portion of the service charge of the device to the providers of solicited services, thereby rendering the device and the search service more affordable for the users. This improved affordability may consequently promote the acquisition of such devices and the utilization of the service by more cost-conscious users. Moreover, the charges to a particular provider may be computed proportionally to the benefit of the utilized service to the provider, such as per impression (e.g., upon recommending a provider of a solicited service to a user) or per 'click-through' (e.g., upon initiating a communication session between the user and the provider relating to the solicited service.) Alternatively, these techniques may be utilized in a mobile communication device (e.g., a GPS receiver) that does not have a data plan or a general-purpose communication interface, but that is capable of communicating with providers of solicited services.

"To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, the following description and annexed drawings set forth certain illustrative aspects and implementations. These are indicative of but a few of the various ways in which one or more aspects may be employed. Other aspects, advantages, and novel features of the disclosure will become apparent from the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the annexed drawings."

For more information, see this patent: Horvitz, Eric; Huang, Xuedong; Jain, Kamal; Mahajan, Milind Vasudeo. Commercially Subsidized Mobile Communication Devices and Services. U.S. Patent Number 8818415, filed December 6, 2012, and published online on August 26, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Microsoft Corporation, Software.

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Source: Computer Weekly News

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