Apple CEO Tim Cook has been on a bit of a roll recently, speaking out about how certain companies (by which he meant Google) use your personal information to monetize you, targeting ads to increase their revenue, ” We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
Well it looks like Mr Cook has some explaining to do in the light of a new Apple patent filed last week that would explicitly target advertising at you depending on how much money you have.
Targeted advertising is hardly new, in fact it’s the cornerstone of some companies’ business. If we are going to have advertising, which unless the world suddenly decides it’s willing to pay for all it’s content upfront, we are, it might as well be at least relevant to our interests. I’m never going to be interested in shampoo, hairspray or feminine hygiene products, but I might well be interested in a new phone or other gadget and thus far more likely to click on the ad and buy what they are selling. The idea is that everybody wins. I get a new toy, the seller gets a sale, the advertiser and the site/app that carried the advert gets a cut.
On this basis, advertising to someone based on their bank balance makes sense. No point in advertising a Rolex to someone who could never afford it. It could even be seen as a force for good, if you are no longer bombarded with ads for things you cannot and never will be able to afford you will be saved the feelings of inadequacy and resentment that some people feel when presented with such images.
But the question remains as to why Apple in the form of it’s CEO should be insisting to it’s customers “You’re not our product” and yet patenting something that clearly goes against that. The obvious answer would be to assume that Apple were a bunch of lying shits who say one thing and do another, but that is not necessarily the case.
Apple have a long history of patenting things that they don’t actually use and they may even be actively patenting this so that nobody else can do it. Effectively blocking this route to everyone who might use it and keeping you safe from those nasty people who want to use your data to sell you stuff.
So hero or villain? Only time will tell.