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Apple Seeks Patent On Operating System Advertising 342

Posted by kdawson
from the go-ahead-be-evil dept.
patentpundit writes "On April 18, 2008, Apple Computer applied for a patent relating to an 'invention' that allows for showing advertisements within an operating system. The first named inventor on the patent application is none other than Steve Jobs. The patent application published and became available for public inspection on October 22, 2009. If implemented, the invention would make it possible for advertisements to be displayed on a variety of devices, including desktop computers, cell phones, PDAs, and more. In one alarming aspect, the device could be disabled while the advertisements run, thereby forcing users to let the advertisement run its course before the system would unlock and allow further use. In an even more invasive scenario, explained in the patent application, the user could be required to do something, such as click to continue, in order to verify that they are actively watching the advertisement and haven't simply walked away while the ad runs. Whether Apple would implement such an invention is unknown, but it is possible that they think there are others out there who might want to implement such invasive advertising. It is possible Apple wanted to get ahead of the curve and file this patent so that if any company is silly enough to engage in Big Brother advertising, then Apple will get a royalty. I sure hope this is not the future of advertising."
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Apple Seeks Patent On Operating System Advertising

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  • Logos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ewoods (108845) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:03PM (#29847727)

    Doesn't putting a logo or a brand name on a product constitute advertising? That's been done all over operating systems since the beginning of time - prior art?

  • There are other OS's (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xs650 (741277) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:04PM (#29847735)
    Without collusion that would drive buyers to other OSs.

    Not even MS would do something that doucebaggery on their own
  • Re:Troll protection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:11PM (#29847859)

    If you don't intend to put ads in your OS, why would you need to protect yourself from someone else patenting it? No, this is a patent to preempt "free" advertising-supported commercial operating systems by competitors, namely Google.

  • by camperslo (704715) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:20PM (#29848023)

    This reminds me of the "free computers" of 1990 or so, with some of the screen space taken up by extra ads. I think that was just when running the browser though.

    The same users that went for those "discounted" PCs with an AOL contract obligation might opt for other cheaper hardware with an ad hook-in subsidizing the purchase.

    27" iMacs turning into billboards... hmmmm...

  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:21PM (#29848035)
    After all, they are the advertising kings and now they may have to pay royalties to Apple for the right to embed ads in their own Android OS. How embarrassing for them.
  • Re:I dare them! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:24PM (#29848105)

    Pretty much. I've got limited real estate on my screen. Even more so on a netbook. To top it off, I have limited bandwidth, occasionally use metered bandwidth, and often play online games where any interruption is deadly.

    I'll actually go one step further: as long as there is any alternative that does not display ads, I will use it. I will pay a significant amount of money (at least a few hundred dollars) and put up with other significant UI issues (including learning a brand new one) if I can get my hands on a OS that doesn't have ads.

    Yes, I know. This will most likely be similar to a Netzero play: free OS, free software, as long as you watch the ads. It could even be a price differentiator, like the various editions of Windows Vista. But even Netzero abandoned the business model of supporting free product with ads. And I also understand that filing for a patent does not constitute a product announcement. But it's never too early to start the bitching when it comes to ideas as braindead as this one.

    I know people have gotten used to having TV subsidized by ads, and I know that a lot of people use the computer as a glorified TV. But a significant portion of users have a computer because it is nothing like a TV. And those will abandon an ad-driven OS in droves.

  • by GerardAtJob (1245980) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:29PM (#29848191)

    Perhaps too much faith in Apple? I can easily imagine somes ads popping up in your iPhone soons...

  • Oh HELL NO! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kheldan (1460303) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:32PM (#29848267) Journal
    ..so software that creates unwanted advertising pop-ups is called "malware" and the authors of such are prosecuted, but then someone decides to write an operating system that does that by design!? What sort of Bizzarro universe did I wake up into this morning anyway? No fucking way, not even if the OS is free would I put up with that shit!
  • by icannotthinkofaname (1480543) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:39PM (#29848365) Journal

    Yeah, stupid microsoft! what were they thinking!?

    oh wait.. this is apple? Wow, this may actually be the final straw that made Linux win against Apple's Mac OS X.

    Fixed that for you. It's still a long way off from competing with Windows, in terms of market share, regardless of how awesome it is.

  • by shking (125052) <babulicm@cuu[ ]b.ca ['g.a' in gap]> on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:40PM (#29848385) Homepage
    How is this not obvious? There are already devices that lock you out until you watch some advertising. DVD players, for example. This is just a case of grafting something like "in a computer operating system" onto the description of something that's already common. BTW - It could be argued that DVD players have a "primative" operating system
  • No ads, no IP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:56PM (#29848627) Homepage Journal

    I will pay a significant amount of money (at least a few hundred dollars)

    Per month? Because eventually, a home Internet connection that's compatible with an operating system that doesn't display ads will cost that much. Consider Trusted Network Connect [wikipedia.org], which allows a DHCP server to quarantine traffic until the the ISP can verify that your computer is running specific proprietary software. No ads, no IP address outside 169.254.0.0/16.

  • by calzones (890942) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:56PM (#29848649)

    I think the whole point of the patent is so Apple can profit share should any apps choose to run ads on their devices. For example, if you install an app on your iphone that pops up ads and behaves in any modal way that makes the iphone inoperable, Apple might not like that. In addition to any TOU and contractual obligations imposed on app developers, this gives Apple a patent should an app designer manage to circumvent the TOU in any way.

  • by osu-neko (2604) on Friday October 23, 2009 @02:13PM (#29848987)
    Oh come on, it's patently obvious [apple.com] what product Apple intends to use this on. People blabbering on about ads on their desktop are just engaging in fear-mongering...
  • by Again (1351325) on Friday October 23, 2009 @02:24PM (#29849139)

    Isn't that anti-slashdot-zeitgeist though? Patenting something simply so someone else can't do it? IMO, that sounds like a "patent troll," just not in the typical usage of the phrase.

    Yes, but in this case it is altruistic patent trolling.

    And I have a hard time putting so much faith in Apple, which has done plenty to not deserve said faith, that they would not advertise - if nothing else, their own products. Apple is looking for money. Just like Microsoft and Google.

    In my opinion, this seems out of character for Apple. When I bought my HP netbook, it came with all kinds of crap including links on the desktop to websites like eBay. So far, this type of Apple has avoided this type of behaviour.

    I agree that Apple is here to make money and ever since my iMac G5 died I have held a grudge against them but I will admit that their products are very nice, clean packages. Their current customers are in general people who can afford to pay extra money for an operating system and a hundred bucks off of a $2000 computer isn't significant.

  • Re:I dare them! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Friday October 23, 2009 @02:39PM (#29849383) Journal

    I can imagine the Mac vs PC commercials reversing very quickly if they start doing things (like this) to annoy the user.

    We already have pop up advertising like this on PCs that run Windows, they are called "viruses" and "trojans". If Apple did this, surely someone would come up with an "antivirus" product that will rid of the ads.

    Worse yet, someone would come up with an OS X virus that displayed pop up ads that promised to get rid of the Apple ads, and then you couldn't tell which ads were Apple, and which were virus. Of course, both would be equally irritating.

  • by AdamThor (995520) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:18PM (#29850903)

    It would be a pretty bad move to block calls with ads, but making calls is hardly all the iphone does. I wouldn't be suprised at all to find ads tacked on to the front of apps. "You got this app from the apple app store! Here are some others you might like..." If the recomendation engine was good, the apple faithful might even recognize it as a feature. And wouldn't location/gps based ads work through a channel like this?

  • by MrMarket (983874) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:22PM (#29850981) Journal

    ... this is a protection measure to make sure that any company stupid enough to try and set this precedent (advertising in the OS) will have to pay through the nose to Apple. It is in fact, the quintessential poison pill.

    Wow. I admire Steve Jobs, but not to the point of denial. Jobs cares about athletics... almost as much as he cares about making money. I could easily imagine Apple selling top billing in the ap store or iTunes store to the highest bidder -- or running an ad before you get into the stores.

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Friday October 23, 2009 @05:30PM (#29851935) Homepage

    I'm pretty sure there is some prior art from the dot.com era when someone tried to introduce an ad supported free pc.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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