Don't waste your time and money applying for a patent without first having a good assessment from a patent attorney who knows the area well. Patents are hard to get, and a lot of them don't really protect the idea very well. A good patent that can actually protect a business costs thousands, often tens of thousands of dollars, and that's only the start; then you need to budget the legal costs of protecting the patent. It does you no good without the legal expenses to protect. That is, if it's written well enough to actually protect you.
I say take that inventive mind of yours and do something you can actually do without needing to piggyback on Apple, and build your own business.
Tim Berry is the chairman of Eugene, Ore.-Palo Alto Software, which produces business-planning software,