Apple Tries To Patent Annoying People With Intrusive Advertising That Requires Attention

from the only-good-if-it-stops-everyone-else-from-using-such-a-thing dept

The NY Times is discussing a patent application by Apple (20090265214) for putting really intrusive advertising into products that would require users to respond to prove that they’re paying attention to the advertising. First, there’s a fair amount of prior art on very similar ideas. Not all of the prior attempts were quite so draconian — but that’s not because they needed some special new invention or “spark of genius.” Instead, the reason why this hasn’t been implemented fully is because most people realize it’s stupid and would only serve to piss off customers. But it’s hardly a new, unique or non-obvious idea. Hell, I remember discussing a nearly identical scheme around 1995 as a joke because it was so ridiculously stupid. Hopefully, the Patent Office realizes that this is an obvious concept and doesn’t grant the patent.

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Comments on “Apple Tries To Patent Annoying People With Intrusive Advertising That Requires Attention”

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bassmadrigal (profile) says:

Opt-In Only

The only way I can see this actually be semi-sensible would be as an opt-in service in certain ad-based models. Such as movie watching on the likes of Hulu. You make sure you are paying attention to this ad, then you can watch the whole movie ad free. Although their current model of watching a longer ad, to see the movie uninterrupted is great.

I’m not saying I would prefer this over hulu’s current model, but this would be the only way I could see it be feasible without a massive backlash from the community.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Opt-In Only

And how long before some 13 year old kid that will end up at MIT figures out a way to circumvent such “required viewing” attempts? Some script that makes it think you’ve paid attention when you haven’t?

Trying to force customers to do what you want just doesn’t work anymore. It’s why advertising is changing too. You’re seeing more ads for product release rather than product worth, because marketers are finally starting to realize that we all know about Coke and Pepsi already, and the new ads really aren’t going to make us switch from one to the other…

bassmadrigal (profile) says:

Re: Re: Opt-In Only

It wouldn’t be forcing them. The way I had envisioned it was the same way Hulu’s big long commercial at the beginning is. Where they ask you beforehand whether or not you are willing to do it. And if you don’t, then you would just see commercials in their normal spots while watching the video.

Like I said, it isn’t something I would like to see happen, but this is the only way I could see it happen without too much backlash from the community.

Call me Al says:

Re: Re:

I’m all for Apple getting this patent so that other people can’t do the same thing without infringing. I dislike obtrusive ads in most circumstances.

However I can see bassmadrigal’s point and there are circumstances where I wouldn’t have a problem with this. There isn’t a hope in hell that this kind of advertising wouldn’t be abused though to the detriment of my internet surfing pleasure.

Call me Al says:

Re: Re: Re:

Apple already spend their time trying to trick me into downloading their programs. I run I-Tunes and Quicktime but whenever they update Apple automatically ticks the boxes to say I want to download Safarii and some other rubbish.

They are only consumer friendly if you are an Apple convert and so worship the ground Steve Jobs walks on. For the rest of us its a nuisance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not just prior art

There isn’t just prior art on this, there are prior patent applications. One simple reform of the patent system: Make it a criminal offense (fraud) if you submit a patent application without revealing prior art. The way overly-broad patents have been issued in the past 10 years, this would effectively shut down the patent system until all current patents expire, because there is virtually guaranteed to be some overly-broad patent that covers darn near everything anyone would want to submit a patent on.

iamtheky (profile) says:

They will be rolling in such fat advertiser cash they would not dream of locking this up.

When every kid in america has an 5 ad-supported ipods because they came with the value meal and wanted every color. Plus they offer the added bonus of training a new generation that actively participating in advertising is the proper way to be rewarded with content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Been Done

Actually, the idea is unique in one very specific way:

The device(s) would be built in a manner that the advertising system is the boss, and can interrupt basic functions of the device. The idea of confirming viewing is that without the confirmation, the device would not operate, and the operating system / cmos that actually runs the system would come in second place behind the ad system.

It’s a very unique concept, in that it is to entirely corrupt the device rather than just a software package thrown on top. The devices would be built from the ground up to support exactly this type of operation, so it wouldn’t be easy for some kids to write a few lines of code to bypass it.

So while you may see some similarities in some prior software setups, this would be the first hardware controlling system I have seen.

Derek Reed (profile) says:

Re: Re: Been Done

Are you arguing that the distinction between enforcement at the hardware level instead of the software level is deserving of a monopoly on the concept? Let’s say I want to be slightly different and implement a virtual machine for basic operations, and have a host os that displays the ads and stops everything for interaction, is that also a non obvious extension of the concept?

I didn’t read the patent, I don’t know if what I described or what you described or both are what the patent describes. EITHER way, there’s a lot of obvious extensions to this concept.

I fail to see why it’s a good thing for anyone to grant a monopoly on the concept.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Been Done

Actually, it would be pretty easy for some kids to write few lines of code to bypass it, or put a few jumpers here or there to fix it (yes, fix it, as hardware being ad dependent seems broken to me). Engineering kids, ages 16-25 love this kinda project (you’d be amazed at what 1.8 or 3.3 Volts in the right place will let you bypass in hardware setups). I ought to know, I’m one of them

Eponymous Coward, AKA Doug (profile) says:

Not Draconian,

but Onerous. Draconian may have been nice and alliterative when applied to DRM (the dreaded, despised, Draconian DRM deeply disturbed Dante), but it just doesn’t sum up the above and beyond pain in the ass that stuff like this embodies.

Come on, Mike, give onerous a chance.

Good luck alienating your customers, Apple, and let me know how that works out for you.

thomas says:

Oh my..

what a dumb idea. Just what I need; I’m trying to write a letter using Pages and up pops an ad that I have to respond to before I can continue writing. Or perhaps I’m reading my e-mail in Safari have to stop and read a stupid ad and respond in some way before I can continue to read mail. No way would I use any software like that.

They already put ads on GPS so that you can get a coupon or some such for McDonalds when you drive near one. Supposedly only pops up when the car is stopped, but what happens when it gets confused and pops up when you are moving in traffic and the ad distracts you and you have an accident? Just think of the lawsuits.

Anonymous Coward says:

Considering Apple consumers will buy anything because it’s made from Apple I don’t think they’ll have too much of a problem getting this off the ground. But, as many have pointed out in today’s world patents are mostly about being able to license them, or just hoard them so others can’t use the same technologies.

Regardless, the overwhelming majority of Apple’s customer base make their decision on what they think will give them some boost to their social status, rather on any actual merit of function or utility. All Apple has to do is get some celebrity endorsements, get the tween’s to jump ship, and soon enough everyone still trying to act like they’re not approaching 40 will gobble up the same products. In the event something this intrusive and disruptive does become implemented into their newer products however, it’s possible it could finally be the eye-opener these people need to see that Apple products will never be user-friendly and the only use they can get out of their product is what Apple wants, not the consumers. Need proof? Just ask anyone who’s spent $1500 on each generation of iPhone just so they can have half a dozen extra features that products back in ’04 already had, or anyone who wanted to upgrade anything on anything Apple’s ever made.

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

"... and would only serve to piss off customers."

Gee, you think?! And I thought Apple was just another ultra-proprietary company. ;(

Just one more reason not to buy any of their over-priced, over-proprietary products in the future. (I don’t buy M$ crappy, over-priced products, either). ;p
Third-party, open-source, fully hackable devices are the way to go. 😉

David Gerard (profile) says:

Apple declares: "Fuck it, we're evil"

After bricking unlocked iPhones, kicking applications off the iPhone store that might even slightly compete with iTunes in the far future and filing a wave of patents on basic well-known computer science, Apple Inc. today filed a Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission declaring that it was openly adopting Evil™ as a corporate policy.

"Fuck it," said Steve Jobs to an audience of soul-mortgaged thralls, "we’re evil. But our stuff is sooo good. You’ll keep taking our abuse. You love it, you worm. Because our stuff is great. It’s shiny and it’s pretty and it’s cool and it works. It’s not like you’ll go back to a Windows Mobile phone. Ha! Ha!"

Steve Ballmer of Microsoft was incensed at the news. "Our evil is better than anyone’s evil! No-one sweats the details of evil like Microsoft! Where’s your antitrust trial, you polo-necked bozo? We’ve worked hard on our evil! Our Zune’s as evil as an iPod any day! I won’t let my kids use a lesser evil! We’re going to do an ad about that! I’ll be in it! With Jerry Seinfeld! Beat that! Asshole."

"Of course, we’re still not evil," said Sergey Brin of Google. "You can trust us on this. Every bit of data about you, your life and the house you live in is strictly a secret between you and our marketing department. But, hypothetically, if we were evil, it’s not like you’re going to use Windows Live Search. Ha! Ha! I’m sorry, that’s my ‘spreading good cheer’ laugh. Really."

Blog rant:

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