Apple patents anti-user attention-complianceware

Apple's filed a patent on a design for a device that won't let its owner use it unless that person demonstrates that she has complied with an advertiser's demands by paying attention to an ad and taking some action indicating her dutiful attention.

It's amazing how many of these vendors fail to understand Chekhov's first law of narrative: "A gun on the mantelpiece in act one is bound to go off by act three." That is, if you design a device that is intended to attack its user -- by shutting her out of her own files and processes against her wishes and without her consent -- someone will figure out how to use that device to attack its user.

Or as Mitch Kapor once quipped, "Architecture is politics." Designing your device ecosystem for 1984 gives you...1984.

Cue Apple Fanboys who want us all to understand that the infallible and immortal Steve Jobs would only use this power to show us lovely, interesting, and informative messages that we're happy to receive in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1....

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.

The system also has a version for music players, inserting commercials that come with an audible prompt to press a particular button to verify the listener's attentiveness.

The inventors say the advertising would enable computers and other consumer electronics products to be offered to customers free or at a reduced price. In exchange, recipients would agree to view the ads. If, down the road, users found the advertisements and the attentiveness tests unendurable, they could pay to make the device "ad free" on a temporary or permanent basis.

Apple Wouldn't Risk Its Cool Over a Gimmick, Would It? (via Warren Ellis)


  1. Sounds to me like a more-sophisticated version of what Google’s been doing on YouTube, for example, for well-nigh onto a year, and oddly, I haven’t seen much outcry about that.

    If Apple decides to put device-freezing ads onto iPods and iPhones, their market share will plummet. They don’t dare do that. So how would this technology emerge — as a feature that iPhone app developers could enable, letting them choose to gamble on alienating their users vs. making a few extra bucks?

    In any case, pre-insulting Apple users is poor form, I just have to say.

    1. The google ads on YouTube do not prevent the viewer from continuing until they acknowledge that it’s been view. They are unobtrusive and easily dismissed.

      David, Chandler, AZ

  2. i hate hate hate hate this sort of crap. hate it so badly. i don’t have tv by choice, but there are a few shows i do like to catch up with, and trying to watch them online (from canada) is a huge pain. tons of *free* video sites do this, where they lock the page until you sign up for/put in your credit card number/fill the survey/sign up for 3 out of ten “offers” from their advertisers.

    if apple puts this in as a matter of course, i will be absolutely finished with using their products.

  3. Well, if it comes to my gadgets, I’ll sell every piece of Apple equipment that I have. And I’m using Apple products since Apple II.

  4. They patented it so that no one else could, to keep it out of the hands of evil people.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  5. Yeah, I am an Apple user, but that’s crap. I will never use anything that makes me do that no matter how shiny it is.

    Apple, however, patents a million things they never take to market. I’m inclined to believe they’re smart enough not to take this to market. At least, they’d better be.

  6. I remember you mentioned similar ad-supported cell phones in Little Brother, Cory. Don’t remember if you portrayed them as negative or not.

    If it is a way for someone to have a free computer when they otherwise couldn’t have a computer, it doesn’t sound too bad. Especially if they would provide the ads for a limited time– for instance, you watch the ads for 1 year to cover the price of the hardware, after that the ads go away.

    1. for instance, you watch the ads for 1 year to cover the price of the hardware, after that the ads go away.

      The Golden Gate Bridge was supposed to become toll-free once the construction costs were paid off. It never happened. Somehow, it just never works that way.

      1. The Virginia Beach/Norfolk 264 expressway was supposed to go toll-free when it was paid off and… it did. Problem is, with no toll for the past 14 years the road has had its issues. Had the toll been in place we could have made the appropriate repairs along the way and maintained the other roads in the city which have been completely neglected along the way. Too little money to go around. Virginia Beach, and Hampton Roads in general, has absolutely terrible road quality.

      2. Passports and income tax were also “temporary measures”… this bread sure tastes good while I’m watching the circuses.

  7. A free device in exchange for viewing ads maybe?

    Sadly, Cory, tens (hundreds?) of millions of people are already conditioned to think this is ok. Read a newspaper? mostly ads. Have a TV? You have to endure ads in order to watch the content. Like Youtube vids? Pay to rent a movie? 10 minute prerolls, and so on.

    The ‘device’ Apple has proposed is just their way of forward thinking about the (de)evolution of advertising.

    People will embrace it with the right marketing.

  8. “In any case, pre-insulting Apple users is poor form, I just have to say.”

    I know, they’re awfully sensitive people! My gf just bought a new mac, and has been on the defensive ever since.

    I still use xp. Nobody makes fun of windows users!

  9. I never would have imagined that Apple would become a pioneer in Goatse delivery mechanisms. Color me impressed!

  10. Cue Apple Fanboys who would get this thing for free, hack the shit out of the complianceware and end up with a free device without restriction in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1….

  11. the immediate hate people have for the practice will likely shut it down, should it ever be used. i hope hope hope.

    makes me wonder though: hasn’t this sort of thing been done before, in some form?

  12. We’ve seen adware preinstalled on windows boxes for years. It does not lead to cheaper computers. Manufacturers just make larger profits.

  13. Okay, I’ll take the Apple fanboy bait, Cory.

    I don’t think Apple has any serious intentions of using this patent. Any quick study of Steve Jobs would suggest he’d never go for the idea… and, unlike other companies (Microsoft, cough), Apple has never compromised the experience of using its products with third-party advertising.

    As I’m sure you know, companies will, as a matter of practice, patent the inventions of their employees, even when they have no intentions of ever using them.

    While I (greatly) respect your advocacy for a world free of DRM, I’d love to see less Apple-bashing on your part.

    This post was pretty dumb.

    1. Apple has never compromised the experience of using its products with third-party advertising.

      Actually, Apple forces me to have a Google search bar in the top-right area of my Safari browser that uses up space that I want for seeing more of the URL field. You can’t remove it, although you can alter it to change the search engine through hacks. But, I don’t want it there, period. Firefox lets me remove it, but when I try to remove this annoying piece of shit I never use from Safari it carries the entire URL field with it. Thanks a lot, Apple… I’m sure Google really appreciates it, though.

    2. Any quick study of Steve Jobs would suggest he’d never go for the idea…

      From the (linked, please read!) article.

      Yet Mr. Jobs is directly connected to this particular patent application: his name is the first listed of the five inventors. This is a rarity, occurring only four times among the 30 applications on which he is co-inventor that have been published by the patent office since March 2008.

  14. >Pop quiz, hot shot.
    >Which product was in the add you were just supposed to watch?

    >Go to your room. No more internet for you tonight.

  15. Sounds like the timed-reads people are required to do by the Feds in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.

    But no…no…Apple is so good and pure! Jobs is like a digital Jesus!

    Freakin hypocrites.

  16. “If it is a way for someone to have a free computer when they otherwise couldn’t have a computer, it doesn’t sound too bad.”

    You overlook one simple fact: the segment of the population that can’t afford shit is no advertiser’s target demographic. #premisefail

  17. First of all, IP is a special game. A company as big as Apple vigorously pursues IP for a number of reasons. When you can afford to churn out patents the way a company like Apple can you do it in an offensive an defensive way.

    I want to stop to mention that I’m not by any means suggesting that is such a saint that they wouldn’t implement something like this because they’re a saintly company. Merely there are a bunch of practical business implications as to such a move.

    If such a business model was to threaten Apple, it would make sense for Apple to patent the IP before anyone else in a defensive move. Let’s say for the evolution of the Apple TV for example. Apple keeps away from ad-supported models typically, but if another company could undercut the Apple TV by offering similar features but by giving the hardware away for free due to a ad-subsidized model with a higher CPM due to 100% accurate ROI calculations, that could easily threaten Apple’s next move.

    Apple historically has stayed away from any ad-supported models in order to maintain it’s “pure” user experience which is the cornerstone of it’s brand. I’m not saying it’s impossible, it’s just unlikely.

    1. The problem is that this patent neither harms nor helps Apple Computer’s IP. The kicker is how this will apply to those owning hardware / software with locked IP.

      If Microsoft put up a patent like this, even Microsoft users would point and snicker. If Microsoft put up a patent like this, Microsoft users can put up a finger or two (UK) and say we are going to take our money and PCs to Linux.

      Apple users of Macs, iPods, and iPhones will not have much choice in the matter if Jobs decides to implement this patent.

      1. I don’t think you understand how Intellectual Property works. Apple’s Intellectual Property doesn’t exist on your “hardware / software.” It’s the fact that they have the patent, if nothing else, ensures that someone else could not do such a thing as it would infringe on their patent. It’s not like they’re going to press a switch and now all your macs, ipods, and iphones will suddenly have ads that you can’t avoid.

  18. the cheap or free ad-supported device would prob only be a quick hack away from a free or cheap fully featured device so im all for it.

  19. There is nothing wrong with your computer. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your computer. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… the Reality Distortion Field.

  20. @#4: you DO believe that santa claus exists, do you?
    @#8: yes we do. But we laugh at Mac users, too.

    Anyway, the interest of jobs seems to be to scare off every single Apple User on this planet but the few fanboys who dedicate their life using Apple products even if they suck. The Politics on the iPhone AppStore was the first step, their legal action against Psystar the next, now we see the third.

    I wonder what will come next.

    Greetings, LX

  21. In order to pass this (cinematic / advertisement), you must press (L2 / Up) RIGHT NOW because if you don’t, (you’ll get hit by a boulder and have to rewatch the cinematic, including its 40 seconds of awkward dialogue / we’ll just keep playing the ad until you do, BWAHAHAHA). This is the case because of (our lack of creativity in game design / our lack of moar moneys).

  22. Remember the promise of cable television? How well did that work out? Now imagine if cable television quizzed you on the content of the ads in order for you to watch more television, despite the fact that you pay monthly for it.

  23. Well I .was. considering using an iPhone as the hardware beneath some wearable computer prototypes, but this is the last straw. Ads popping up while I’m driving or cycling? Heck nah.

  24. When apple starts treating me as badly as you say they inevitably will, then I will be as sad and angry about it as you currently are.

    But, as a customer of apple (as opposed to someone who decidedly is not a customer) I’ll wait until they actually do use this device against me to tell Apple to stuff it.

  25. Beyond the very astute point upthread that this could very well be part of an IP game, something every major tech company plays, there’s the fact that the bulk of consumers shrug their shoulders and accept adverts very readily.

    I’m not going off on “the sheeple” or something, but the average end-user just accepts there is a trade-off of some kind for the product. It’s only when that trade-off becomes truly obnoxious do people really start to make some noise. But if people are getting free iphone service in trade-off for mandatory commercials, that might be a deal many people are willing to accept.

  26. I do not have or want any Apple products, other than a slightly outdated version of Quicktime needed for some editing and player functionality. Never went for their “shiny thing” design style, don’t see that changing. And the cultishness that surrounds them would be regarded as the equivalent of Scientology if they were any other company.

    1. Yes, that’s true, some people do prefer ugly things that barely work. Never understood the attraction, myself.

      1. ‘Ugly things that don’t work.’ Well that’s why I went for the home-brew Wintel stuff myself.

        What does your Windows system run on?

  27. Would be an awesome way to get rid of an unwanted call.

    “Please hold while the recipient of your call watches an advertisement. Thank you for continuing to hold. The recipient has failed to indicate proper viewing of the advertisement. Please hold while another advertisement is presented to your call’s recipient……….”

  28. I had to sit through something like this for a four-hour sexual harassment training video: if you answered wrong, it replayed the section. If you missed a prompt to continue for more than a minute, it replayed the section. Oh, I wanted to tear my eyes out by the end of that thing.

  29. The issue here — or rather, the main issue — isn’t really the ads. The main issue is user control.

    If you’ve been reading Cory’s writing for more than a few days, you’ll have noticed that he’s a big advocate of users having control over the stuff they own. When you buy a hunk of electronic gear, it ought to be yours to do with as you will (as long as you don’t, y’know, hit people over the heads with it, or other blatantly evil actions). If you want to take it apart and build a steampunk burrito-wrapping machine out of it, great, more power to you.

    This here patented technology, if put into use, would deprive users of control over the devices they ostensibly paid for and own. It’d be as if the manufacturer has installed a tiny commissar inside the device to keep you from acting as if you actually owned it. Since the DMCA criminalized the circumvention of such protections, it could then become illegal for you to build your steampunk burrito-wrapping machine, or do whatever ever other clever thing you were thinking of doing with this bit of kit that you thought you owned just because you bought it.

    1. This here patented technology, if put into use, would deprive users of control over the devices they ostensibly paid for and own.

      Sounds like the majority of apple’s business methods and the basis of their legal moves for the last decade.

      Gobo… I’m so glad you responded to Cory’s cue. First comment and everything… astounding fb skillz.

      1. Ah, I see. Fanboy skillz. Since there’s absolutely nothing in my post fanboy-flavored, gee, teapot, I can only assume you’re hurting for drama.

  30. Okay, so I’m not really saying anything new, but this is just corporate suicide. When my gizmo locks, it’s junk. I throw it away and don’t buy another one. So who cares if another company kills itself?

    Then again, there might be a market for cheap ad-blocking gizmos designed as promo hand-outs. Give ’em to the kids or throw ’em away.

    And no doubt some bright chap out there would figure out how to crack this capability, if it were worth the effort.

  31. a couple weeks ago there was rumor about providing cable-tv content via itunes for a monthly subscription fee. I wouldn’t be surprised if this sort of acknowledge-or-else advertising was tied into that somehow.

  32. Many of you seem to be missing the point that this device would refuse to continue until you did something that showed you’d been PAYING ATTENTION TO THE CONTENT! E.G., not just “click here to continue,” but “select the color of the ball the little dog carried off.”

    Get it wrong, and you watch it over again, and have to respond to a different question.

    Many people leave the room during TV commercials, use TiVo or another DVR to skip pre-recorded ads completely, or select a new radio station when the advertizing starts.

  33. “Cue Apple Fanboys who want us all to understand that the infallible and immortal Steve Jobs would only use this power to show us lovely, interesting, and informative messages that we’re happy to receive in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…”

    But just saying that doesn’t resolve the fact that there is no evidence that Apple would use this in their own products, does it?

  34. The FIRST design/device that uses this new patented feature will mark the re-birth of hand-grenades for sale at 7-Eleven.

  35. This feature is just perfect for drivers.

    I feel that there haven’t been enough car accidents, so why not make my ipod stop in the middle of something to play an ad then make me look at it to tell it i’ve been a good boy and listened?


  36. If you work out how to do something that you don’t want to see being done, and that thing is patentable, and you are in a position to get a patent, then why wouldn’t you? That way you can prevent anyone from using the idea for as long as the patent holds. And you prevent anyone else from ever being able to patent it. Yes, publishing the idea will (theoretically) prevent a patent but it wouldn’t stop its use.

    Similarly, if you come up with an idea you want spread around but you fear some nasty entity might find a way to patent it and close it up, you could get a patent yourself and allow no-cost licensing. Assuming you can fund the process, of course.

  37. New Rule for fanbois (The Golden Jobs Rule):

    Would Steve Jobs put up with using a specific “feature” on a daily basis? And we’re not taking J.Random Fanboi who is always ready to blame any deficiency of Apple on himself, We’re talking volcanic temper ur-Narcissist Jobs.

    I figure this is a pretty fair-minded criterion, in that a lot of the genuine “features” of Apple products are dictated by the personal tastes of Steve Jobs. In such a situation I’d be happy to concede a “agree to disagree” position on such features. But I’d argue that being forced to use a “feature” like this would result in a legendary bout of tantrums and firings from good Ol’ Steve.

  38. Hmmm… given the Apple’s recent application for an ad-supported but free OS (, I seriously hope that the timing of this patent application is just coincidental. I mean, Steve Jobs wouldn’t want to shoot himself in the foot _that_ badly, would he?

  39. If you’re too poor to buy an Apple computer, you can just patch together an IBM box and VM whatever bootlegged Apple OS/programs you want but can’t get with Windows or *nix platforms. Internet piracy has made this a relatively easy option for years.

    If they push the adware into other product lines, people will just forego i-Whatever products and go with the often cheaper, ad-free competition.

    Worst-case scenario? Your customer base refuses to update, and eventually migrates completely away from your company’s offerings.

    Best-case scenario? The cheaper adware-supported product allows Apple to lower the prices on their standard-issue gear, which could draw in a larger customer base. But I’ve never seen this happen with anyone, anywhere. Companies are too short-sighted and greedy to back off their prices in the short term, even if it means greater profits in the long term.

  40. Cory, I don’t care what your cred is as an culture/technology critic, writer, commentator, or all-around good guy. I don’t care that I usually agree with your take on current events in all the spheres in which you navigate so articulately. I have not always been in complete agreement with you about some aspects of copyright, but that’s about it. I also admire your and BoingBoing’s conception, maintenance, and lively involvement of fascinating guest bloggers.

    However, none of that excuses your contemptuous use of the word “fanboy” or “fanboi” or any other term of contempt. No contempt should be allowed in BoingBoing. Contempt is the poison that is savaging every medium of expression. I had assumed that your Canadian heritage would have forever inoculated you against the Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck approach to discourse. Contempt sucks. If this is going to begin to poison BoingBoing, too, I will give up on it.

    When I was growing up in Wisconsin in the 50’s, my parents subscribed to Life Magazine. I still remember the photos in the back of each issue. One was a large murky shot of a landscape seen from a height, possibly from a small plane. It may have been in winter, as there seemed to be a mixture of white and smudged black. It was an open woods, with a lot of space between the trees. Hanging from a few of the branches were some shapes, apparently men. They had lived in a world of contempt.

    David (Kansas City) Cramer
    Born in the USA
    Escaped to Canada in 1968

    1. @ kc_cramer:

      The contempt here issues from the fanboys. Anyone who does not own the latest iWhatever and ceaselessly evangelize its infinite superiority over anything and everything else in the same market-space is derided as neanderthal, dated, ignorant, unstylish, and more.

      Get the picture?

      The problem with cults does not originate outside. It comes from inside.

      Always has, always will.

  41. interesting how this post is via Warren Ellis, a fine man who has a hate for apple that has always been good for a laugh.

  42. Cory, did you even read the article?

    The inventors say the advertising would enable computers and other consumer electronics products to be offered to customers free or at a reduced price. In exchange, recipients would agree to view the ads. If, down the road, users found the advertisements and the attentiveness tests unendurable, they could pay to make the device “ad free” on a temporary or permanent basis.

    This is opt-in. If you don’t want it, pay for your device like you already do. If you wanted it and change your mind, pay for the device like you already do.

  43. this type of design is also the reason why musicians and djs migrate from myspace (trashcan) to soundcloud (community)

  44. Since this hasn’t been actually implemented, a couple of things.

    You have a variant like this insofar as a number of iPhone apps are ad supported. What if this is used instead for free apps as a sop to developers? They could release free apps and this form of ad-support would encourage people to buy the pay versions.

    Maybe it’s a pre-emptive patent. Apple has no intent to directly implement it but wants to benefit if someone else tries something like this. Why not profit from others’ mistakes?

    For that matter, not every Apple patent actually gets implemented.

    So. We don’t know the reason for patenting this nor how or if it’ll be implemented.

    And yes, if the mass assumption is correct, it would suck. But to me, the operative word is “if”.

  45. Apple patents loads of stuff. Doesn’t mean they have any intention of implementing it. It’s the same for all large companies.

  46. i figured it wasn’t that people don’t laugh at windows user but rather we shake our heads in quiet disbelief, like if we saw someone let their dog do the driving.

  47. re Chekhov’s first law of narrative: “A gun on the mantelpiece in act one is bound to go off by act three.” …

    I allways thought that meant: Anything in the stage directions for a play should be there for a point…

    I.E. why methon the gun if it’s not important….

  48. Fake Steve nails it:

    But see, that’s the point. We don’t expect anyone will choose the ads. Because, for a very reasonable monthly fee, you’ll be able to eliminate all those ads and get your content free of all interruptions. How reasonable, you say? Well, let’s say that for $30 a month you could watch all the TV you wanted. Let’s say that we can get all the TV networks, or most of them anyway, on board for this. Let’s say that we give you not just this week’s shows but an enormous archive, one that ultimately includes every TV show ever made. Tear out the cable box, stop paying those assholes $100 or $200 a month, and go with us instead.

  49. @Kyle Armbruster

    Oh hey, wait just a gosh darned minute. You can’t go inserting facts and reason into an anti-advertising diatribe. Advertising is The Great Evil and we must stop it!

  50. @kc_cramer

    Well put!


    i hate hate hate hate this sort of crap. hate it so badly. i don’t have tv by choice, but there are a few shows i do like to catch up with, and trying to watch them online (from canada) is a huge pain. tons of *free* video sites do this, where they lock the page until you sign up for/put in your credit card number/fill the survey/sign up for 3 out of ten “offers” from their advertisers.

    Sounds like you are trying to get something for free that the content providers want you to pay for, either via (paid) TV, (paid) DVD, etc. If the content is important to you, pony up. If not, don’t. Why do you think you’re entitled to a specific content offering for free? You could also use over-the-air TV as an alternative, but you’ve chosen not to.

  51. From the consumer standpoint, having to sift through ads to get free stuff isn’t as horrible as it sounds. People do it everyday on youtube, google, myspace, etc… The only issue I see with the “mandatory” ads would be for the professional user, someone who uses to macs for business rather than pleasure. I for one would gladly pay a price point not to have my work interrupted with ads, and this could the be the direction they may try; a tiered service plan. Free with ads, or pay for it without ads. I’ve seen numerous sites offer free memberships with ads or pay memberships without ads.

  52. I am a developer of games for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Interference such as that outlined in this patent would ruin game play in a number of products, especially those involving real-time interaction.

    Can you imagine being in the middle of the final level of a difficult flight sim or racing game, only to have an inane advertisement for some product or service you neither want nor need, pop up and both halt game play and ruin your concentration?

    What say would a developer such as myself have in its implementation? Would I be powerless to prevent this from happening during the game I am selling, prompting some of my customers to demand their money back and/or trash my reputation as a developer, for a “feature” over which I have no say or control?

    How often Apple shoots itself in the foot, ruining its designer shoes.

  53. The next thing after DRM is ARM (Attention Rights Management), increasingly sophisticated ways of enforcing the social contract between consumers and advertisers.

    (What, you say that there is no such contract? They said the same thing about the idea of “intellectual property” (a term made up in the 1970s), and now it’s common sense that copyrights/patents/trademarks are property, so much so that the idea of them expiring, in the way that land titles don’t, seems a bit odd. If enough powerful interests push a metaphor, it becomes part of the landscape.)

  54. If Apple decides to put device-freezing ads onto iPods and iPhones, their market share will plummet.

    I seriously doubt this is intended for ipods or iphones.

    But it seems to be a fairly direct port of the revenue model for media traditionally supported by advertising- video, newspapers, magazines, etc.

    Aren’t there some rumors floating around about Apple coming up with something like that in the near future?

  55. Apple got a *patent* on this? Silly patent office.

    But on the plus side, it also means that no one else can do anything similar unless they first pay the big bucks to Steve Jobs, a payment that’d further reduce their incentive to do so.

  56. Fake Steve’s take is superficially reasonable, but I think wrong.

    Nope, this is the Deal With The Devilâ„¢ that Apple has to make with content providers to get free content on the media consumption device popularly referred to as the “Apple Tablet” and avoid its relegation to Kindle-like mediocrity.

    Pretty much the same as how FairPlay DRM was a necessary condition of getting the big labels on board with iTunes back in the day.

  57. I think a better use of their time would be DRM that protects users. Burn after viewing. If a teenage girl sends her boyfriend a video, it should be viewable once.

  58. My only question is “how long before somebody tracks down and assassinates the offending code branch?”

    And will Apple sue?

  59. they show commercials before movies now and people still pay to go, so why would apple think folks will not pay for something just because it shows ads?

  60. Not sure this represents that radical a shift from what Apple’s already doing. The comment about Intellectual Property patenting is a damn good one; and many here have mentioned Apple’s “user experience” focus.

    After doing some warranty-questionable stuff on an iPhone recently, I realized why some of the non-Apple store iPhone programs didn’t get approved: They’re really not all that great. Customizing a theme is nice, but if the theme is poorly done I don’t have a device that’s aesthetically ideal (at least from a presumed Apple model). While some would be OK with that – and they have probably already jailbroken anyway – others might think it’s not worth the fuss, given the 100K apps available for their devices, each one Apple approved.

    Apple has to walk a fairly delicate line between presenting a sleek, clean package and allowing total flexibility to users/consumers, and it’s really not all that surprising that they err to the side of conservatism.

    That said, the idea that your iTouch or phone or Apple Netbook or tablet or whatever’s next would be beholden to ads is hard to swallow for two reasons.

    One, the user experience angle. One of the nicest little things on that iPhone I mentioned is a hack that turns off popup notifications (such as text message alerts). Not sure why Apple put those in there in the first place; annoying modal pop-ups are more or less the exclusive bourne of Microsoft.

    The point being that similar popups would be rejected by consumers as nagware, I think.

    That brings us to the second reason – they’d be hacked out of existence within weeks, at the most.

    I suspect if Apple ever does release such a device, it’ll be a ay of subsidizing the costs, allowing consumers to get something for very cheap (or free) they can’t otherwise afford, as others have suggested.

    And I don’t accept the argument that such a demographic is not what advertisers target. I could afford to pay the full on price for, say, a MacBook, but if I cold get one for 50% or 75% off and have to deal with ads for a year or two, I might be very sorely tempted.

  61. My take on this was that it was at the operating system level, so ads could appear at any time, in any application. So use in tablet or ipod or iphone or any mac os device could be considered. It might be an alternative way for Apple to maintain margins while reducing sale cost to the consumer. Want that rumored tablet for only $200, OK, you just need to accept these interactive ads…

  62. @mn_camera

    No. You are lying. Note that I am describing what you are doing. I have not called you any names. That would referred to as an ad hominem attack. That is a common logical fallacy. That indicates that whatever you think are are arguing is instantly and automatically invalidated by your own actions. What is inside would be the point, but in this case it is to some extent subsequently unknowable. We understand that you hate somebody or something, probably yourself primarily, that’s how this stuff usually works. It would be more honest for you to just stand in the middle of crowded places and scream “I hate you! I hate you!”

    I believe that Cory made a very serious mistake. He validated contempt and hatred, and he needs to take responsibility for the result.

    David (Kansas City) Cramer
    Born in the USA
    Escaped to Canada in 1968

  63. that is one of the reasons why i use only open source software and Linux. this way, i don’t have to worry about some crony capitalist trying to run my desktop for his personal financial gain.

    the community builds the software i use and it is clean, fast, and more secure than windows/Mac.

  64. “someone will figure out how to use that device to attack its user.”

    You mean like Microshaft and their blocking the HDD of the Xbox360? They obviously don’t know how many parents put a chip in the consoles so they don’t have to give scratchable media to their kids to destroy.

    This locking people out of hardware is becoming a habit.

  65. If advertisers want to pay to have my devices force me to watch ads, they should just pay me direct- for my time.

  66. Mr. Cramer,

    I find your contempt for America’s allegedly contemptuous showbiz personalities, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, contemptibly hypocritical.


    1. @Shrikeback

      Hi Shrike,

      Yeah, but I only implied that their mode of discourse was associated with contempt, which I believe they themselves would not dispute.

      The biggest problem with contempt, of course, as well as anger, is that it’s so infectious that when it begins to take hold of a discourse process, everyone tends to get sucked in. But I do work at trying to steer clear. I am more concerned that Cory’s careless posting triggered it by using a term of contempt. And once he set it running, you may notice that it quickly took over the blog.

      Cory’s not usually tempted to cross that particular line. If it is a trend, the blog will die.

      David Cramer

  67. I would not call myself a fanboy by any means, but this is the main reason I switched to Linux. It hasn’t been a cakewalk, but for my purposes and priorities (mainly using my computer as multimedia machine), it’s significantly less painful. I pick the distribution that works for me, and I pick the options I want. I spent a few hundred on this hunk of metal, it’s MY computer, dammit. People have been mocking the whole “year of the linux desktop” commentary, but the more the world moves in the article’s direction, the more power they give to alternative options. There’s just too many people catching on and staying active in the Linux community to get bowled over by this nonsense… thank FSM!

  68. I fully support this idea.

    It’s been at least eight years since a company was dumb enough to think they could sell hardware subsidized by software advertising. Hacking firmware is pretty simple, and I could use some new toys ;)

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