Apple continues to search for ways to increase the usability and utility of the content it sells via iTunes. It’s latest effort is revealed in a patent filing published Thursday by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office titled Media Gifting Devices and Methods.
The filing describes a fairly straightforward method by which iTunes users can gift digital content to someone directly from the iTunes Store and have it charged against their own account. The recipient then receives a notification to download the content.
In another scenario, the user could make a gift of a piece of content from her own iTunes library. The recipient again receives a notice to download the content from iTunes and the gifter’s account is charged for the new copy of the content.
The latest filing comes just a few months after Apple filed a separate patent application on a system to create a managed marketplace for used digital goods. In that system, when user A decides to sell a used file to user B one or the other of them would notify the iTunes store of the arrangement. The store would then enable user B to download the file while user A’s access to the original would be disabled. The iTunes store would keep track of who has access to which file and who no longer does.
Both services are designed to enhance the value of content purchased through the iTunes store by increasing the number of use-cases available. That in turn increases the value of remaining within the iTunes ecosystem as Apple battles with Amazon, Google and (maybe, sort of, someday) Microsoft for ecosystem supremacy.