Apple's New Patent Is Patently Crazy

The difference is that these ads will theoretically appear on iPhones and TVs as well as computers, and they won't go away by themselves. As the Fake Steve Jobs (aka the Real Dan Lyons) notes, being obnoxious is really the idea:

We can make those ads so bad, in fact, that the experience of using the device would be effectively ruined.

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 a******s $100 or $200 a month, and go with us instead.

Thus Apple now becomes the cable company. And the cable company dies. Yes, friends, another enormous, ridiculous, old-fashioned, greedy, fat, slow-moving, change-averse, stupid industry falls before the power of Steve.

The real Steve Jobs would never cop to a strategy so crass. But Fake Steve's idea that Apple simply wants to control the horizontal and the vertical of your video and phone life -- the way it tries to control everything else it touches -- makes a lot of sense.

Like most large high-tech companies, Apple files for a lot of patents that may or may not find their way into products. Over the past three years, the Cupertino crew has sought to patent ways to embed sensors into clothing (like running shoes) that communicate with iPods and iPhones (and only iPods and iPhones); gadgets that would prevent portable devices from recharging if they've been synced with a nonauthorized machine; and gizmos that would sit inside Apple devices and record "customer abuse events" that void the product's warranty. (And then there are those half-human half-iPhone clones I've been reading about.) We haven't seen any of those things appear in Apple products... yet.

Advertising is coming to software products, make no doubt. Microsoft's Office Starter 2010 is coming with ads embedded. Some bloggerati speculate Apple filed this patent merely to beat Microsoft to the punch.

Maybe. But even if mandatory advertising schemes come to pass (and they've been tried before, never successfully), I think it will take about 15 minutes before somebody figures out how to break them.

If you want people to pay attention, you need to make the ads more entertaining. Apple knows that as well as anyone; the company makes some of the best ads in the computer biz. So I cannot imagine Apple forcing people to watch boring brain-dead commercials. Fake Steve may be right; there's clearly something else afoot.

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