Can you imagine there is one new invention that pertains to your job each year? Now consider the number of different jobs there are. Now consider the vast number of other activities outside of work.
Or think of it this way, a mobile phone: it could have novel programming, novel chips, novel screen design, hinge, case plastic, button return springs that last longer, easier to use touchscreen, stronger glass, more flexible, brighter, etc., any of these things might give it the market advantage. How many other things do you use each day, each of them could potentially be improved and that improvement be registered in a patent.
The parent spoke of applications for patents anyway. Granted patents in the US are apparently about 40% of this.