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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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  • by AtomicDevice (926814) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:03PM (#29847723)
    I really hope they get the patent because then nobody else will be able to do it.

    In other news, I use linux?
    • not be able to use it ... without licensing.
      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        not be able to use it ... without licensing.

        On the US market.

        On other markets it will probably still be open for competition.

        But if such an ad appears I will surely be upset enough to go ballistic. As if the ads today aren't intrusive enough?

    • Yeah, stupid microsoft! what were they thinking!?

      oh wait.. this is apple? Wow, this may actually be the final straw that made Linux win.
      • Wow, this may actually be the final straw that made Linux win.

        What did Linux win, and how did it beat Windows 7?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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 geekmansworld (950281) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:18PM (#29847985) Homepage

      Does anyone in this thread really think that Apple, a company utterly obsessed with aesthetics, good design, and usability, would put ads in their operating system? Not likely. Remember when Apple switched to Intel chips? There were no "Intel Inside" stickers for Macs.

      I think the poster and the first commenter have it right: 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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by GerardAtJob (1245980)

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

        • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by k_187 (61692)
        They might not put it in their desktop OSes, but sounds to me like this is made for the iPhone and an official ADs api for it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by peragrin (659227)

          Right(sarcasm). So the Ad will block the whole phone from working while my boss calls and I can't answer it for the next30 seconds.

          The idea is stupid. I am actually shocked that IBM or MSFT donthave prior art.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jonbryce (703250)

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Apple, a company utterly obsessed with aesthetics, good design, and usability, would put ads in their operating system?

        And marketing. Don't forget marketing. Maybe Apple wants to show their own ads?

      • Does anyone in this thread really think that Apple, a company utterly obsessed with aesthetics, good design, and usability, would put ads in their operating system?

        Uh, yeah. One reason why I think they would do this is because they got a patent to do this. Weird, I know. I'm sure they'll come up with a wonderfully-designed, aesthetically-pleasing, usable* interface for showing advertisements.

        It may shock you to realize this, but Apple is actually a for-profit corporation which, like other for-profit corporations, is focused on maximizing revenue.

        *Usable for the advertisers, of course.

        • Or could this be a patent to block MS? Think about it, MS software is expensive, with Windows 7 they actually have an OS that doesn't totally suck, perhaps Apple is just blocking MS from making an ad-supported Windows 8?
          • They won't block anything, Microsoft has plenty of money to use for royalties if they want to. So does Google, in fact. Regardless, Apple is just looking to cash in, probably by implementing their own advertising in addition to accepting royalties from anyone else who wants to do the same.

      • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:45PM (#29848445) Homepage Journal

        Does anyone in this thread really think that Apple, a company utterly obsessed with aesthetics, good design, and usability, would put ads in their operating system?

        Yes, I think they would do it on iPods. I imagine in their talks with record labels they discussed many revenue streams. One could easily be free music downloads if you're willing to watch ads on your iPod.

        They could also offer two revenue models for iPhone app publishers: the current cash model or advertising. The OS could block use of the app until the ad is run.

        I don't imagine this coming to desktops, but it's definitely a possibility for their more specialized operating systems.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Does anyone in this thread really think that Apple, a company utterly obsessed with aesthetics, good design, and usability, would put ads in their operating system?

        Have you used iTunes lately? Ugh. Their design and usability practices are clearly not universal within the company...

      • by timeOday (582209)

        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.

        What does that protect against? Why would Apple care if somebody wanted to do something Apple truly believed was stupid?

        People might not like this idea, sure... but if the only way they can afford an iPhone is to sit through a 10-second ad before making a call, they'll probably still do it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MrMarket (983874)

        ... 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 stuboogie (900470)
        "Does anyone in this thread really think that Apple, a company utterly obsessed with aesthetics, good design, usability, and marketing would put ads in their operating system?"

        Fixed that for you.

        While this may truly be a defensive filing, I don't think it is that far fetched that a control-crazed company like Apple wouldn't use this in some fashion. As long as the ads are for Apple products and services, I'm sure Steve Jobs sees nothing wrong with it.

        iAds...coming soon to OS X 10.7 Frozen Kitten
    • Prior Art: (Score:5, Funny)

      by iYk6 (1425255) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:20PM (#29848013)

      There is prior art from 2002: http://www.bbspot.com/News/2002/10/bsod_ads.html [bbspot.com]

    • 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...

    • The only thing that gives me confidence is the fact that even the almighty Apple would be tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail if they tried to actually implement this.

      Of course, I don't really see the need for a patent to prevent other people from doing it. None of the major OS vendors would be so foolish as to think they could actually get away with attempting to implement OS support for invasive ads such as described in the patent.

    • by AP31R0N (723649)

      "In other news, I use linux?"

      What the hell is this question asking?

  • I dare them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhfry (829244) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:03PM (#29847725)

    So long as there is a Free (not $$$ free) alternative, all they will do is push users to it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)

      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 o

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pharmboy (216950)

        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

  • 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?

    • Re:Logos (Score:4, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:13PM (#29847899)

      Branding isn't the same as advertising. For one, advertising involves showing ads for products that don't necessarily have anything to do with the one you're using. The tag on the back of your shirt that says who made the shirt isn't an advertisement for that brand, it's just identifying who made the shirt. The design on the front of the shirt, however, is an ad.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mortonda (5175)

        Come on, you missed a perfect time for a car analogy. The Chevy cross on the back of a car is just a logo and branding. The stuff painted on these cars [nascar-wallpapers.com] is advertising.

  • 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
    • Microsoft could get away with doing it. No one else could. Now if Microsoft wants to do it, Apple will be making double profit (1) switching users (2) royalties.

  • by windex82 (696915) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:06PM (#29847767) Homepage

    .... for an explanation from the apple fan boys why this is so awesome!

    • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 @ g m a i l.com> on Friday October 23, 2009 @02:07PM (#29848881)

      It's not, but since when is the world entirely black and white?

      Just look at Michael Jackson.

    • by db32 (862117)
      Honestly...this seems to fly in the face of all of their entire user experience driven design policy. It also stands as a tremendous insult and annoyance to most of their target demographic. I find it very difficult to believe that a company that uses 'style' and the whole 'smoothness' factor to sell its products would quite eat a bullet like this. Love or hate their products, they have been very savvy on the marketing front for the most part, this seems like a very backwards move for them to really impl
    • You mean the same people who paid to software (OS) and hardware combination and didn't ask Apple what the heck that "impossible to change" Google search in OS Default browser will cause a riot against some ads?

      What made me more than angry was the first release and later releases of Safari on fscking Windows had Yahoo search option. iPhone/iPod too. Believe or not, Apple is after couple of cents from Google and that is why they include Google by default. Apple, the 1.6 billion profit making company... I unde

  • Prior Art? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vandil X (636030) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:07PM (#29847781)
    I recall reading about "free" PCs running Windows 98 that required the user to click and view ads every 30-60 minutes of computer use.

    There were also plenty of "free" dial-up ISPs that required you to click their advertising banner every so often for the connection to stay alive.
    • That is software on top of the OS, not the OS itself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)

        So where is this separation between OS and software on top of the OS? You could say Explorer.exe is just an application on top of the OS. How low does it need to be? Advertisment.dll? Advertisement.sys? Adverisement.Hypervisorkernel?

    • Re:Prior Art? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trahloc (842734) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:26PM (#29848153) Homepage
      I use to work for them. FreePC, loved the job, no one bitched about getting a free computer. But you didn't have to click on ads, you just had your screen permanently filled with them on the bottom and right side. The remaining area was left for you. They eventually got bought out by emachines and then it became a horrible place to work.
  • Maybe they're going to start giving away Mac OS X or iPhones for "free" -- if you allow advertising? It's the NetZero approach to OS distribution!

    To turn off the ads, you just have to sign up for MobileMe at $99/year. That's all! Small price to pay to bask unimpeded in the Shekinah Glory of Macintosh. (Shekinatosh?)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by osu-neko (2604)
      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...
  • First, there's prior art for this of course. Second, it's just like the old con of putting "on the internet" on the back of any old idea and claiming it's new.

    Is Apple going to get one upped when some super-genius comes up with the amazing idea of Advertising on the OS...on a netbook! or Advertising on the OS...on a laptop! It's ridiculous. Advertising on _anything_ is inherently an obvious idea.

  • by nmb3000 (741169)

    As somebody who avoids Apple products I hope they are granted the patent and it is vigorously enforced. If a company wants to pursue such amazingly stupid advertising techniques like these, I'd be just fine with having them confined to the Apple product line. (What I find interesting is Steve Jobs being listed as the "inventor". Does he have nothing better to do than sit around and come up with ways to screw over his customers?)

    Even better is requiring other companies (who also wish to shoot themselves i

    • Having a patent doesn't mean you are going to use it. However Apple could use it against other firms for doing something similar and possible threatening their business model of selling hardware. Now selling adds and giving away the hardware would be a threat to Apples model so if someone does this apple could sue them to death.

    • What I find interesting is Steve Jobs being listed as the "inventor". Does he have nothing better to do than sit around and come up with ways to screw over his customers?

      In all fairness, turtlenecks don't buy themselves.

    • by samkass (174571)

      Since this patent pretty much describes Google's core business model, I assume Apple is simply doing it as a way of keeping Google at bay. Do you seriously think a company which is as minimalist with its design as Apple would scatter ads over the desktop? No, they're just adding an idea to a patent portfolio as a bargaining chip when/if Google tries to implement this idea.

  • I claim prior art. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brennanw (5761) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:12PM (#29847867) Homepage Journal

    http://www.ubersoft.net/comic/hd/2000/12/next-logical-step [ubersoft.net]

    http://www.ubersoft.net/comic/hd/2000/12/next-logical-step-ii [ubersoft.net]

    Apple, if you really want to go forward with this please have your lawyers shower me with cash.

  • I for one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:13PM (#29847883) Journal

    welcome our advertising-patenting overlords.

    Seriously. I hope Jobs all the best in this patent pursuit. If Apple succeeds, then I can avoid occurrences of this amazingly offensive idea by the simple expedient of avoiding Apple operating systems, a course of action I'm already pretty much committed to for ample reasons of Apple's corporate citizenship and customer relations.

    As far as I'm concerned, this patent will be the legal equivalent of encysting a noxious parasite for 20 years.

    • Seriously. I hope Jobs all the best in this patent pursuit. If Apple succeeds, then I can avoid occurrences of this amazingly offensive idea by the simple expedient of avoiding Apple operating systems, a course of action I'm already pretty much committed to for ample reasons of Apple's corporate citizenship and customer relations.

      Your theory is flawed because it is based upon two unsupported assumptions. First, that Apple plans to implement this patent in their own products. Second, that Apple won't license this patent to other companies.

      • by idontgno (624372)

        Agreed. Let's just say I'm specifying a best-case scenario.

        Another pretty good one is the "Apple as White Knight" playbook. Apple patents this technological obscenity for the sole purpose of locking it away, never to be implemented by their own operating systems, never to be licensed to another operating system, for 20 years.

        I find this story less convincing to me, given my beliefs in Apple's corporate behavioral tendencies. But I concede that it is a plausible, if unlikely, alternate outcome.

        The other obvi

      • First, that Apple plans to implement this patent in their own products.

        The fact that Apple got a patent supports the assumption that they plan to implement it. Unless Apple is just a patent troll, which is another possibility. Both of those assumptions are supported. I find the former more likely.

        Second, that Apple won't license this patent to other companies.

        That doesn't imply that every operating system will have advertising.

        • First, that Apple plans to implement this patent in their own products.

          The fact that Apple got a patent supports the assumption that they plan to implement it.

          Actually it does not. That's called a non sequitur. Just because they patent something does not imply they are going to implement it as evidenced by the many patents they file which never see implementation. It simply sparks speculation that they might implement it, which is not the same thing.

          That doesn't imply that every operating system will have advertising.

          True, but irrelevant, since the original assertion was they could avoid OS's with built in advertising by simply avoiding Apple products.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by znu (31198)

          The fact that Apple got a patent supports the assumption that they plan to implement it. Unless Apple is just a patent troll, which is another possibility. Both of those assumptions are supported. I find the former more likely.

          Or plans to use the patent defensively in the periodic patent wars that large tech companies inevitably get into. Or sees the idea as having some commercial value, but not within the context of its current premium-product strategy.

          Apple has years-old patents on shape-shifting keyboard

  • by INeededALogin (771371) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:16PM (#29847935) Journal
    company is silly enough to engage in Big Brother advertising

    The Big Brother metaphor has finally been dealt its final blow. Big Brother advertising is propaganda. I think a better term for this new patent would be "Jerk Advertising"
  • I would be happy to have someone patent this pile of crap idea!!
    If other people would be forced to pay them money for adding annoying crap to my OS..then perhaps they are less likely to do it.

  • 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.

    Riiiiiight. Hey, anything is possible.

    My first thought was "I wonder if it is possible to apply for

    • Agree, Apple has been really ramping up 'alternative' revenue streams the last few years. The say it is for your convenience but they don't really give you options. Ipods (iphones) need Itunes. MobileMe is another example. There are no other real options.
      • by Khyber (864651)

        ipods do not need itunes.

        Jesus christ does anybody pay attention to Winamp any longer? It's had ipod support for YEARS.

  • 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.
  • um.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kev4573 (1663001)
    Isn't this the definition of adware ?
  • There was a company ( here [pbs.org] is a link to a story Cringley did on it at the time) that gave away a desktop system with a program that loaded a "frame" around the Windows desktop that streamed advertising. You basically filled out a questionnaire about your interests and if you fit their profile you got a PC. A coworker checked everything ( I ridiculously actually put the things I was interested in) and got one of the first PC's. I think that venture lasted about six months.

  • 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!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ..so software that creates unwanted advertising pop-ups is called "malware" and the authors of such are prosecuted...

      It's only called malware and prosecuted if it is deceptively marketed. If you offer a software package designed to show people ads and are upfront about that and it is what users want or it offers a benefit in addition to the ads which users feel outweighs the cost of seeing ads then it is not malware at all. For example, lots of Web apps are partly or completely subsidized by advertising and are not malware.

      ...but then someone decides to write an operating system that does that by design!?

      Maybe, but if someone does then you are free to buy it or not and so long as they are not deceptiv

  • There were a lot of companies doing or trying to offer advertising in free computers or free Internet access. If someone has copies of The Computer Paper from Canada from the late 90's and early 2000 there should be ads in there for those kinds of offers.
    http://usproxy.bbc.com/2/hi/business/275213.stm [bbc.com]
  • In other words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Experiment 626 (698257) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:37PM (#29848349)

    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.

    So, best case scenario, Apple is a patent troll?

  • by shking (125052) <babulicm AT cuug DOT ab DOT ca> 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
  • I would bet a lot of money on the fact that advertising giant Google's Chrome OS would have this built in.
    If I understand patents correctly, they don't need to patent it to be protected as long as they have been working on it for a while and can prove it.

  • Oh, no! (Score:2, Funny)

    by ctrl-alt-canc (977108)
    Now we will see soon a beowulf cluster of advertisements...
  • My idea is to create an adblocker for advertising in operating systems.

  • I believe that's what the off button is for. Or pulling the battery.

    And if it would come to fruition, then it would be time for a new unit without this bunch of bull.
  • I think the Mac is in need of advertising inside the OS. I mean, how else is Apple going to make up for its low price, especially the low-priced hardware? Mac users need to pay for this luxury in some way.
  • by straponego (521991) on Friday October 23, 2009 @05:25PM (#29851883)
    They're welcome to implement any feature they want. It's just business, nothing personal.

    But if Apple *does* implement that particular feature, I will join Al Queda. Just sayin'.

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