Nexus 7 has secret ‘smart cover’ magnets Google never mentioned, now what?

Google’s seven-inch tablet Nexus 7 is starting to crop up at resellers ahead of a mid-July release (yes I want one, too), but the search giant might run into trouble with Apple’s lawyers over its embedded magnetic display shut-off feature. A developer posted a video yesterday that doesn’t bode well for Asus, the maker of the Google-branded device. As vividly shown in the video included below, the magnetic sensor sits down near the tablet’s lower left-hand side. Wanna hear the funny bit?

Firstly, the clip.


The funny thing is, neither Asus nor Google nor anyone else in the Nexus 7 food chain never mentioned anything about the magnets.

This could mean two things:

1. there’s not only a Smart Cover style accessory in the works, but a range of accessories taking advantage of the magnetic sensor
2. Google is well-aware its implementation of the magnets will provoke sue-happy Apple so it reckoned it should keep it a secret for as long as possible

If you ask me, Apple will not hesitate to sue once this thing is everywhere.

Plus, Cupertino has already patented its coded magnet technology for the Smart Cover and won other patents related to the Smart Cover’s design (here and here), even if a guy from Colorado begs to differ.

According to Apple’s recruiting video embedded below, designing such a seemingly obvious thing as a Smart Cover was “a tremendous amount of work by a large number of people who through the course of this product have become genuine experts in new areas because they had to to figure out how to make this product”.

Case in point:

The difference between a good product and a great product is that attention to detail. Our implementation of magnets was a really challenging engineering task. One of the engineers on the team actually became an expert in doing computer simulations on magnetic field.

If Apple sued a bunch of Android vendors over the slide to unlock and rubber-band scrolling in iOS, why would they let Google copy its Smart Cover tech? Of course, we’re speculating here as it ins’t known (yet) if the magnets inside the Nexus 7 infringe upon Apple’s tech.


But there’s a far more important reason why Apple would want to take Google to court over magnetic sensors. The Nexus 7 is already hot and it could become huge, provided Google and its partner Asus manage to manufacture enough units.

Apple knows it very well (hence, iPad mini rumors) and is arguably waiting for an opportunity to remove its arch-enemy’s competing tablet from the marketplace by way of injunction.

Once Apple’s legal sharks smell blood, they’re going to move in for the kill.

IHS iSuppli estimates that Nexus 7 parts cost $151.75 for the $199 8GB version and $159.25 for the $249 16GB version, leaving Google with little profit after packaging, marketing, distribution, R&D, sales and other related costs.

On a final note, if Apple sues Google over the 7’s magnets, will they allow Redmond to get away with the Surface tablet and its Touch Cover, which takes more than a few magnetic cues from the iPad.

I know you hate lawsuits as much as I do. On the other hand, innovation should be recognized but not copied at the expense of the innovator, don’t you think?