Apple proposes new product rating scheme

Apple has filed a patent application for what appears to be a new wrinkle in consumer product-evaluation systems, in that rather than critically reviewing the item under scrutiny, they would instead attempt to predict its sales performance.

The application abstract describes it as 'A computer-implemented method of community-based ranking in an electronic store, the method comprising:receiving a predictive ranking of an item in an electronic store and feedback about the item from each of a plurality of individuals, the predictive ranking being predictive of item performance in the electronic store; tracking via a processor an actual ranking of the item over time based on item performance in the electronic store;providing an incentive for individuals in the plurality of individuals whose predictive ranking coincides with the actual ranking of the item; and presenting in the electronic store received feedback from at least one individual whose predictive ranking coincides with the actual ranking of the item.

Sort of a turgid description, but you get the drift.

The payoff? The abstract continues: "wherein the incentive comprises at least one of money, electronic store credit, an increased credibility score, an increased experience score, access to restricted content, free or discounted entry into a contest, the item, and a service.... increased experience score, access to restricted content, free or discounted entry into a contest, the item, and a service... the method further comprising providing the incentive only for a limited subset of the plurality of individuals."

Also on the Apple patent application beat, Patently Apple reports that in the last patent application session for 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple for a social networking app related to shopping that would enable shopping consumers to communicate with friends about items that they are seeking feedback about. Users will be able to send photos or videos of items to view, and additionally some consumers will be able to communicate with salespeople of their favorite stores so as to ensure items they're looking to purchase are in stock.

To enhance security, the social networking app could provide communications paths that could be encrypted or secured such that only authorized devices (e.g. certain friend's iPhones) could access the communications, or to ensure that polls or other interactive features are not manipulated.