Home > Apple, Google > Apple’s unskippable ads.

Apple’s unskippable ads.

As you all know, I’m not a big fan of patents — they need to shut up — even though I am a massive fan of Apple, and of my close, personal friend Steve Jobs. These two views make me feel conflicted about who to root for when Steve does silly things like trying to sue HTC out of existence for, basically, making the best phones they can. On the one hand, Steve has the legal right to do this, but on the other soft, never spoiled by a day of physical labor hand it’s kind of a dick move.

I’m sorry, Steve, I’m not calling you a dick — I think you’re amazing. I just think it’s a dick move. You understand.

Anyway, my personal view is to let the goddamn market decide, and let things like the fact that Apple just makes the best phone and is clearly still gaining marketshare, despite what some recent asshole reports have said — lying scum! — be the big thing. I mean, really, does Steve view HTC as a threat? I haven’t asked him about this specifically, because when I was about to my wife said she needed the phone to call her divorce attorney for some reason, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t see them as a threat. Why would he? It’s HTC, for crap’s sake.

Patently Advertising

A blog called Patently Apple, whose entire existence is devoted to analyzing Apple’s patent filings, posted a write-up a while ago about an advertising system that Apple applied for a patent for which included integrating an unskippable advertising system into their OS. This caused a lot of goddamn furor because apparently people have enough of a time putting up with watching ads when they’re using their browser, let alone when they’re trying to launch it. It certainly would be revolutionary if it happened. Anyway, now Patently Apple is talking about a new patent by Apple for a new system to make unskippable-unless-you-pay-extra ads for videos you watch on your iPhone, iPod, or revolutionary new iPad.  The full details are pretty long, but you should read them. They’re interesting terrifying.

Basically, the ad system would automatically insert commercial breaks at points in the video timeline. You could either sit through them like a good consumer or, if you preferred, you could pay money to skip them, also like a good consumer. The ads must be addressed either by viewing or goddamn paying in order to unlock the next section of content. The kicker? This unlocking could be temporary, so you could conceivably have to pay multiple times to watch the content you’ve possibly already purchased to get on your device in the first place.


Several things strike me as wrong with this:

  1. Prior art – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen ads like this online. A lot. Like, everywhere, and for years. Maybe it rates a different goddamn patent if it relates to downloadable media? But I’ve seen ads in video podcasts I watch. Hmm.
  2. It’s a software patent – and Software patents, as discussed before, are dirty scum.
  3. It’s evil – No doubt about it, the consumer’s getting screwed in this deal. Whatever happened to owning content? Oh, right, Steve told me once that we never buy video, we just rent it.

I know I’m the main Apple fanboy, and I love Steve so much I’d actually jump on a live Steve Ballmer just to save him from the bald explosion, but this is wrong. All this elaborate work to squeeze more revenue out of loyal customers? How could you do that, Steve? Your customers adore you, they look at you, rightly so, as a crapdamn God, and stuff like this makes it seem like you hate them, or are at least indifferent toward them. Even the bastards over at Google aren’t trying to push through anything as invasive as this. Why do you and Apple keep filing such absurd pa — Oh, wait, I get it! Apple’s making a joke! Steve’s creating all of these bizarre patents to parody to the patent system, to show how ludicrous it is! Ha ha! Good one, Steve, you hilarious, sexy bastard!


  1. March 8, 2010 at 1:52 am

    as funny as IBM patenting a method to make a doo-doo in the toilet – look it up

  2. spwsd
    March 8, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    When you watch a DVD, you do not view commercials, unless they are played by default when you first put the disc into the player. This is analogous to limited versions of software installed on a computer before it is purchased. The software is acting as advertising that happens to be a part of the initial experience. If different ads were to show up after your first experience with a DVD, they would seem intrusive, though they wouldn’t really be any more intrusive than the other ads were during the initial experience.

    If you had a TV show that you watched for free on your computer, and every time you watched it, different ads showed up, that would be just like the experience of seeing it on a television set. So, the ads wouldn’t seem intrusive because you’re used to that type of intrusion. It would just seem annoying, like always. And just like while watching live television on a television set, viewers want to ignore ads while watching a TV show on a computer, too. With a television set, they just change the channel. On a computer, they’ll switch which application they’re dealing with until the ad is through playing. If only the creators of commercials could know that you’re watching their commercial. Each advertising slot could then be worth much more, so fewer commercials would be required for each TV show. Companies would know that their advertising dollars were well spent.

    Now with Apple, they can! Introducing Watch-Me-Or-Else! This new type of commercial is designed to encourage television studios to allow Apple to charge nothing — or close to it — so that you can watch only the TV shows you want to, wherever you want to using iTunes-compatible devices. Currently, Apple is charging for viewers to “purchase” TV show episodes, essentially making you pay for what you can see for free when you are away from a computer. However, when you watch a television set, you are seeing both the show and the commercials (or fast-forwarding through them).

    If only Apple could place commercials inside of otherwise free iTunes TV shows. Or maybe Apple could even place all of the commercials before or after such TV shows. But if they were all together, couldn’t you just fast-forward through them, or at least just walk away for 10 minutes until they were through playing? Yes, you could. Well, Apple needs you to realize that when you watch commercials, it’s your way of thanking the advertisers who paid on your behalf so that you could watch some TV shows. That sounds like bullshit, I know. But the creators of the commercials are paying for you to view the copyrighted content you selected from iTunes, funding your experience of viewing somebody else’s intellectual property.

    Apple has a contract that sits on your computer screen whenever you download iTunes that requires you to click “Agree”. It will someday include a clause — if it doesn’t already — that places the responsibility for viewing commercials with you, where if you don’t watch them, Apple reserves the right to “pause” the entire device (AppleTV, iPod, iPhone, iMac) until you demonstrate that you’re watching, perhaps by selecting something on the screen during the commercial. That will certainly be a new type of interactive experience, and not one that’s evil. It’s merely new. And not new in a “Brand New Poison” kind-of-way, but new in a watching-commercials-is-how-I-pay-for-my-otherwise-free-entertainment kind-of-way.

    It’s what’s known as a new paradigm, like the iPad. New paradigms force us to rethink a few things we didn’t think would change. Like how commercials suck. They only suck because they interrupt the show. If they sat around for us to view altogether before or after the main content, they wouldn’t suck so bad. But until advertisers had a way to know we were actually watching, they had to fuck with us by injecting their shit into our entertainment. Anyway, I’m sure the option to pay cash will be around for a while, for people hate commercials and would be glad to pay not to see them. But that method of payment will seem silly once people get used to just watching a short block of commercials instead. Hmmm… $1 or 5 minutes of my time? Hmmm…

  3. Max Savin
    March 9, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I think its just Apple trying to be a dick to Google. With their free OS and whatnot, its possible that Google may want to integrate ads into their system. But they won’t be able to because Apple owns the rights to that idea.

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