But I thought Apple's core value was wowing users

It appears Apple is preparing to regularly disrupt its desktop / tablet / phone users with ads they can’t avoid (except perhaps by paying Apple an extortionary fee):

Apple could be creating an operating system supported by advertisements, allowing users to obtain the software at a reduced price, or for free, in exchange for being required to view ads.

The patent application for the invention “Advertisement in Operating System” was republished as a continuation this week. It was first revealed last October, and was originally filed for on April 18, 2008. The invention is credited to Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, as well as Freddy A. Anzures, Mike Matas, Gregory N. Christie and Patrick Coffman.

The application describes an operating system that would present the user with an advertisement, preventing them from doing basic functions on the system for a set period of time. At the conclusion of the advertisement, the user would be able to resume their activities on the machine.

This is insane. It would completely violate Apple’s core value, delivering a superior user experience. And it would kill off Apple in businesses because studies show distractions and interruptions dramatically lower worker productivity.

I have to believe Apple is too smart to go ahead with this. But even contemplating this seriously enough for Jobs himself to file this patent application — plus his initial denial of problems with the iPhone 4, even though problems could be fixed by a several-dollar bumper — suggests Jobs is becoming drunk with power.

This is another example why I love Linux so much. Relying on a proprietary operating system (Windows, Mac, Google, or whatever) leaves you at the mercy of a private, profit-seeking corporation. And many such firms — esp. those publicly owned — place profit first, second and third.

UPDATE: The consensus is that Apple is not stupid enough to annoy users who are doing standard computer operations. These intrusive ads are probably going to be used as a “tax” to consume free content. For example, Internet video streams and unpaid apps the user could pay a fee to avoid ads in. This would be a more reasonable use, but I still don’t like my operating system being able to block me from using my computer.

Posted by James on Thursday, July 22, 2010