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Apple Patents "Enforceable" Ad Viewing On Devices 439

Rexdude writes "Apple has filed a patent that forces users to interact with an ad. FTFA: 'Its distinctive feature is a design that doesn't simply invite a user to pay attention to an ad — it also compels attention. The technology can freeze the device until the user clicks a button or answers a test question to demonstrate that he or she has dutifully noticed the commercial message. Because this technology would be embedded in the innermost core of the device, the ads could appear on the screen at any time, no matter what one is doing.'" We've been following this story for awhile now but it seems to have broken into the mainstream.
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Apple Patents "Enforceable" Ad Viewing On Devices

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  • Fortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imamac ( 1083405 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:42AM (#30115106)
    Like most companies, Apple doesn't use half of their patents. Hopefully, this will be one of those unused ones.
  • Great idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:43AM (#30115128)
    Actually, I'm in full support of this particular patent. As long as they don't actually use it themselves, don't license it, and vigorously enforce it.
  • by olsmeister ( 1488789 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:44AM (#30115146)
    Moreover, I would not purchase any product made by a company that produces this device. With a few compatriots, we'll solve this problem.
  • Annoyance ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:44AM (#30115150) Homepage Journal

    College Humor had Volkswagen ads I liked. They were amusing, and there was a 5 second "This video brought to you by Volkswagen" or something before the video.

    College Humor later had another sponsor that demanded a 35 second mandatory viewing BEFORE the video played. I don't recall who. I do recall they annoyed me and I didn't care for their product; I'd buy from their competitors if I did.

    If the ads piss you off, the product pisses you off. Fuck that. Don't buy shit that's advertised through irritation.

  • Re:Fortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Amarantine ( 1100187 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:44AM (#30115152)
    Let's also hope that they won't license it to others, so we'll never see this technology in action. Seriously, do they expect anyone to appreciate this technology? (Anyone that is not in the marketing business, of course)
  • Americans. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:47AM (#30115178)

    Odious. Simply odious. Why do you yanks have this sort of nonsense?

  • by jonnyj ( 1011131 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:48AM (#30115202)
    ...why I no longer buy and am never likely again to buy any products made by Apple.
  • by FlyingBishop ( 1293238 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:48AM (#30115204)

    It increasingly seems like the major software companies are determined to use any CPU cycles wrung out of Moore's law beyond 2005 levels exclusively for their own benefit, leaving us with our 3 ghz 1 gb machine, and quite content. This sort of nonsense removes the primary benefit of a computer, which is its ability to do things for you without your input. Now it does things for someone else, and it requires your input.

  • Re:Great idea (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:50AM (#30115224)

    I don't mind if they use it and enforce it. Avoiding Apple products is easy enough.

  • Apple is evil (Score:2, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:57AM (#30115348)
    Why can't people see that Apple is evil? Seriously, at what level of bend over and take it does it start to hurt enough to want it to stop? What is the line that will get the fanboy's to realize that they do just as much evil stuff as microsoft or any other company in tech? Does shiny and simple really outweigh everything else? I expect to get flaimed and modded down, but I really want to know, how much is too much, what would it take for the iMasses to see the real iJob and wake up?
  • Re:Annoyance ads (Score:3, Insightful)

    by residieu ( 577863 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:01AM (#30115420)
    What annoys me is sites which have an ad before each video that they make you watch. But it's the SAME AD EVERY TIME. And I still don't know what they're advertising.
  • Re:Fortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Loonacy ( 459630 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:13AM (#30115556)

    I actually prefer the sites that have a "continue" button after an ad to the ones that just go right back into the program. The continue button allows me to wander off and do something else while the ad is playing without having to worry about missing anything.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:14AM (#30115564) Journal
    The trouble is, with Apple, that sort of thing wouldn't happen. That's what makes them more dangerous than their competitors.

    When somebody like Sony tries to pull an anti-consumer move, you get crap like UMD, or blu-ray players that need to spend 15 minutes downloading updates before your squalling brat can watch whatever disney tripe will satisfy their 15 second attention span. Or intel's ill-fated :Viiv" that nobody can pronounce and even the initial reviewers couldn't get working properly. And all this is not to mention stuff like cablecard or walmart's DRM server deactivation.

    Even if joe consumer doesn't know what DRM is, has never thought about its implications, wouldn't know "software freedom" if it bit him in the ass, things like that will piss him off anyway. With apple, though, it is different. Their anti-consumer moves are so shiny, so polished, so elegant, that even people who ostensibly do care about DRM and things will come out of the woodwork to defend them.

    That is what makes them problematic.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:14AM (#30115580) Homepage
    where failure to consume is frowned upon, if not outright treasonous.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:24AM (#30115712) Journal

    People only care about DRM when it stops them doing something that they want. Few people care that they can't rip their DVDs (although a few more now that mobile devices capable of playing video are common) but a lot of people care about the unskippable segments at the start. Most people who use the iTunes store don't care about the DRM because it lets them do everything that they want. Same with Steam. The reason people hated the Sony versions is that they didn't work.

    If you want people to hate DRM, don't tell them 'DRM is bad,' encourage them to do things that DRM doesn't let them do. For example, copy their music and films to their mobile phones. Then explain why they can't do it in some cases because of the DRM.

  • by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:24AM (#30115722) Journal

    Yup, the mugger does not know who would be carrying a concealed weapon and who would not be. So they shoot everyone.

    So how well do the before and after statistics in locations around the world that have changed their firearm policies support your assertion?

  • This is 911.
    Help, I am being attacked!
    Hold on sir, I will--

    Sir, are you still there?
    Sir? Hello? Gurgle, gurgle.
    (Bloody mess on ground...)

    Congratulations, you win our haiku contest!

  • Re:Fortunately (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:37AM (#30115850) Homepage

    Apple will gladly license this technology to their competitors; what easier way is there to kill of your competitors than letting them do it themselves while paying you for it.

  • by edbob ( 960004 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:40AM (#30115900)
    Decades? If you think that DVDs have been around for "decades" then you are too young for that sig!
  • by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:59AM (#30116166)

    Hello Apple? I have a problem with my iPhone. Every time it shows an advertisement, the screen gets smashed. Can you help?

    Yes. You signed up for the ad-supported $50 iPhone, instead of the carrier-subsidized $200 iPhone. Simply return it to your AT&T store, pay the $450 ad-supported-phone termination fee.

    You will then be given the option to pay $200 for the AT&T-subsidized iPhone which will not display ads. Monthly charges will apply.

  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:00PM (#30116170) Homepage

    Any device containing such technology is going to get on a black or hack list very fast.

    I'm annoyed enough by all the splash screens thrown in the face every time I start a program.

  • Re:Apple is evil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:12PM (#30116328) Homepage Journal

    Why can't people see that Apple is evil?

    Not evil, but amoral. All corporations are by their very nature.

  • by Gerafix ( 1028986 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:13PM (#30116344)
    Actually there is, it's called Android.
  • by ubrgeek ( 679399 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:21PM (#30116430)
    > I have this vision of trying to dial 911

    Then you and the other posters who have used this example need glasses. There's a reason you can still make an emergency call even when the phone is locked. Nothing they'll do as a result of this patent will change anything along those same lines.
  • Re:Fortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:26PM (#30116494) Homepage

    You can wander off, and come back to find:
    Thank you for watching the advertisement, please enter the advertised product's name to continue.

    On a bigger scale, does it bother anyone else that we live in a world where we pay for things by watching advertisements? The advertisers then charge us extra money for the products they're selling so they can pay for the advertisements, which in turn take up our time. So in a way these advertisements cost us double:
    1. we spend the time to watch them
    2. we collectively endure the cost of producing and distributing these advertisements
    ... and we don't enjoy either part!
    So, what is the purpose of an advertisement? If a new product is coming out, we can find out on the review sites to figure out what sucks and what rocks. Maybe the advertisement's purpose is to appeal to your weaknesses and make you get a product without looking at the reviews. In my experience I have discovered that usually the crappiest products/services are the ones with the heaviest advertising and the good ones are busy doing real work instead of wasting time/money on advertisements.
    I think advertisements have gone too far, and advertising is a drain on the resources of a world with finite resources.
    How about they don't waste? Don't waste time making the ad, don't waste money airing the ad, don't waste my time making me watch a stupid ad. Invest money in making a better product that you genuinely care about instead of trying to convince people to buy your tripe.

  • by JM78 ( 1042206 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:28PM (#30116516) Journal
    With apple, though, it is different. Their anti-consumer moves are so shiny...

    Bull. Apple is evil, granted, but their rise isn't because the masses flock to shiny, polished, gemstones. It's because their products have a history being user-friendly and bringing the power of traditional tech-only gadgetry to those who either can't or won't learn a more complex device.

    I use all the mainstream platforms out there, in my work, on a daily basis. They've all got their pitfalls and suck in their own way. However, my iPhone, as a consumer device capable of doing most of the consumer-related things I want from such a device, freakin' rocks — jailbroken or not. And I am certainly not one who generally cares about shiny/polished. My complaints with my iPhone are 99.99% directed towards the telecom industry.

    If Apple borked my iPhone by a) hijacking my device and pushing advertisements to my phone or worse b) forced me to interact with said advertisements, you can bet your ass the damn thing would end up in the trash.

    Now, on the flipside, if Apple can implement such an action (although I don't see how seeing as how the first FF plugin I install is adblock) in a way that is non-intrusive and doesn't disrupt the joy in using a device then, who cares? Advertisements aren't inherently anti-consumer and are perfectly reasonable on the whole — anti-consumer only exists when consumers don't have a choice. As far as available devices are concerned, nobody can claim the iPhone is the only option available. The market is quite anti-competitive, as a whole, however it stems almost entirely from the telecoms; not device manufacturers.

    So, write your congressmen and the FCC and tell them to turn our mobile providers into utilities and stop their collusion practices because that's where your complaint should be. Apple couldn't compete if they implemented forced advertisements in a world where mobile provider choice was on the side of consumers.

    my 2 cents.
  • Re:Fortunately (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:33PM (#30116566) Homepage Journal

    you had to watch 1 ad ... every 30 minutes of talk time.

    "Yes, I understand. To close this deal, we need to... Hang on. I have to click on....
      Hello? Are you still there? My stupid phone interrupted the call to make me click on this ad."

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:53PM (#30116920)

    You're assuming that the telco in this fictional/theoretical example wouldn't exert some kind of control over the kinds of ads that get played over its network. TV stations routinely refuse to air some kinds of advertisement if they feel that it doesn't meet the corporate ethical image that they're trying to portray to the public.

    Also, there's a very big difference between what airtime actually costs and what the cell companies charge you... especially when you start buying time in bulk. When you can add 1000 minutes of talk time for $5/month and they're still making a profit off of it, you know that the actual cost to the telco is nowhere near as high as they're charging you. I'm also making the (possibly wrong) assumption that given a captive audience and some kind of test at the end of the ad to check that you actually did pay attention, the price that you could command for the ad might be somewhat higher than what you'd pay to put something on broadcast TV or an Internet banner exposure.

    *shrugs* it was just put forward as an example of a way that they could monetize a patent like this without actually having an evil intent. The truth is, I have no idea what they're planning with it... it could actually be one of those patents that people file in order to prevent a technology from ever making it to market.

  • Who the hell cares about firearm homicides?

    How much did all homicides change?

  • Indeed. I'm a progressive, and the huge mistake that progressivism has constantly made in history is attempting to ban effects, not causes. Prohibition, gun bans, etc.

    Even stuff like consumer and lending protection laws, which at least don't have any bad side effects, but are less useful than actual consumer education would be. Sometimes stopgaps are reasonable, but we really do need to get to the root of the problem: People have no idea how to manage their financial life.

    Hell, education isn't the only solution. We could come up some cheap financial advisory industry. It's absurd that the legal and financial professions have priced themselves out of normal people being able to consult with them before doing major things.

    And the right's not immune to it either, look at their little idiocy about illegal immigration. As long as you have a poor country, next to a rich company, where people can go and get much better jobs, you're going to have people doing that. As we can't do anything about the poor country, we don't want to do anything about the rich country, and we can't move our country, the only solution is, duh, not offer them jobs. Or, rather, crack down on people doing so. Instead we get 'law and order' nonsense.

  • Handguns are the great equalizer.

    Without them, some people can injury and kill another person, without that other person being able to stop them. The strong can prey on the weak.

    With handguns, all people can injury and kill others.

    But this also means all people can fight back when the other person tries to do that to them.

    It's a basic equality thing. If some people have the ability to hurt others (And some of that subset, in fact, does.), those others should also have that ability to hurt them back.

    Laws forbidding concealed carry are essentially saying 'Everyone must be as weak as they look, so the strong know who they can threaten safely'.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:18PM (#30117288)


    First thing I thought when I read the blurb. "Wouldn't this be a cherry target for hackers?"

    Think about it. An entire API that can halt the whole damn system, pre-emptively appropriate the screen and audio resources, and interact with the user?

    How about an application that notices whenever the tcp/ip stack sends out a DNS query to www.somebank.com and puts it's app on the screen over top of your browser? It's a spoof so it looks just like your banking webpage. "Please enter your name and password." Bingo - instant password grabber.

    Brilliant notion Apple.

    Here's a tip for the future. Whenever you think something is a good idea, imagine what the black hat hacker implications are. Always ask: What if this fell into enemy hands?

  • by Joe Mucchiello ( 1030 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:33PM (#30117618) Homepage

    Awesome. I don't buy Apple products. Now no one else can do this without paying Apple. Who's going to do that? I'll never have to deal with this. Awesome. Thanks, Apple.

  • Yeah, that's a sorta vague term, isn't it? OTOH, all political descriptions are sorta vague terms. ;)

    I, personally, am along the lines of Woodrow Wilson (domestically) and FDR. Namely, I agree that the government should attempt to implement the FDR's 'Second Bill of Rights', although it's absurd to call those 'rights'. They should, however, be government goals.

    Members of a political philosophies need to be very aware where that philosophy has failed in the past. (Something I fear the conservatives are about to learn the hard way.)

    In the case of progressives, almost all progressive failures have been attempting to solve the entirely wrong thing.

    For example, Prohibition was an attempt to solve the problem of men spending all their family's money on drink, and then being abusive towards their wives. (Modern people read about 'demon liquor' and laugh, but they don't know the context of that.)

    That problem was actually solved with divorce (Another progressive concept) and the ability of women to earn their own money (Which was a liberal concept.), and the eventual recognition of spousal abuse as a serious problem. (Also liberal concept.)

  • Mod parent UP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:35PM (#30118820) Homepage Journal

    I don't care that the post is already at +5. Petition CowboyNeal to make it +6, because that is precisely how to get average schmoes to understand how digital restrictions are hurting them.

    First of all, I don't acknowledge the term "DRM" or "Digital Rights Management," because that does not describe what it's used for. I call it a more layman-friendly "digital restrictions." The whole concept need to be reframed. When people hear "DRM," they think it's some kind of techno-jargon that they don't understand. Even if they find out what it stands for, they think, "Hey, it's to help me manage something, that's a good thing, right?" They need to understand that its sole purpose is restricting them from doing things with their digital stuff. Even if they choose not to do those things, they need to understand that DRM gives them nothing; its only function is to take away.

    I tell people all the time about how unbelievably behind we are because of digital restrictions. "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could watch television on our iPhones? Well, there's no technical reason we can't; it's just that digital restrictions are stopping us." "Did you know that it would be trivially simple to write some slick software so that you could store every CD and DVD you own on a hard drive that costs less than $200 so that you could watch or listen to anything you want, anytime you want, without having to fool with the physical media? Well, we could, if it weren't for digital restrictions."

    Now and then, I actually show people some of the stuff that I have and that I can do, given my technical know-how to rip DVDs and stream them to my television, load them on my iPhone, etc. When people "ooh" and "ahh" over it and ask me how they can do such things, I tell them, "Well, it's pretty hard right now, you have to really dig around to find the software and jump through a bunch of hoops to do it. Unfortunately, whenever anyone tries to write software to make it easier or publish such software in a legitimate way, they get sued out of existence by the people who don't want you to be able to do this without paying big bucks. (Or in many of cases, who simply don't want you to be able to do this at all.)

  • Re:Citizenship (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Migraineman ( 632203 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:51PM (#30119160)
    I prefer to evaluate the movie on it's own merits, rather than complain that it doesn't parrot the book perfectly. It's not a deep cerebral movie, but it's produced well enough to be immersive and fun (except, possibly, for the bizarre physics in the scene where Rico is standing atop the thrashing tanker.)

    My wife doesn't like the movie, and can't get past the "extreme violence." She didn't see the strong parallels between the Global Federation and the 1940s era Nazis. Yes Virginia, the Nazis are the good guys. Maybe that's where the hate comes from.
  • Re:From TFA... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JasonKChapman ( 842766 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:42PM (#30120154) Homepage

    How does that "improve the industry"?

    By sending business back to Blackberry and the various Android-based phones?

  • Re:From TFA... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:48PM (#30121190)

    Artificially bending the market to do what you want it to do is not improving anything.

    Spoken like someone who wants to have to view ads every five minutes to continue a phone call.

    What, are you kidding me? Between you and I, there's only one of us arguing that mandatory ads are a good thing. There's only one of us defending Apple's ridiculous patent and methods. And I do believe that there's only one of us that currently owns an iPhone (and it's not me).

    those apps would quickly get deleted and never run again, and there would be lots of negative ratings as a result.

    Exactly, the results are all negative.

    Thus abusing such an API would be counter to the developers' best interests.

    Yeah, spammers and scammers really seem to care about their reputation.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.