Re: Universal search is lame anyway
This may be the case. However, consider a phone with a dedicated search button (like, I don't know, and Android phone). Which is quicker: Clicking the icon for the particular search you want, which may be hidden in menus/app drawers, may be on a different homescreen etc, or just pressing the search button. A unified search allows you to press the search button, no matter what you are searching for, type a few letters and you probably have the result. It doesn't matter that you already know which DB you want to search, it's quicker* to let the device search everything than to choose what to search youself.
On the subject of this patent, I have seen (and created) such unified/federated search features many times in the past, well before the iPhone, so I really can't see why the patent should be valid (or even exist in the first place). Even google have probably been doing this on their search engine since before this patent, throwing up image/shopping/discussion results (and ads) based on a single search term. Just because it is now related specifically to a smartphone should not make it valid (IMHO)
*I will qualify that with "most of the time". Devices are mostly fast enough to that trawling several DBs for info is quicker than the user selecting which DB.