updated 11:23 am EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Patent submitted just before player's debut
Apple has won a US patent on the design and construction of the fourth-generation iPod shuffle, says AppleInsider. The patent is actually titled Very small form factor consumer electronic product, but clearly shows the Shuffle in diagrams, and talks about a media player constructed with a single-piece housing and other signature Shuffle elements, such as the clip and clickwheel. Also mentioned are two co-pending applications, related to protection against moisture and electrostatic charges.
Teodor Dabov, Kyle Yeates and Anthony Montevirgen, are credited with the fourth-gen Shuffle's design. Notably, Apple's patent application dates back to August 27th, 2010; that's just a week before the player was announced, which may have been deliberate timing to avoid tipping the product early. While the Shuffle is a relatively low priority for Apple, the company also counts heavily on surprise to give its press events dramatic impact and force competitors to catch up.