According to a disclosed patent application discovered last month by The New York Times, Apple Computers is seeking rights to a technology that allows advertising to have a direct spot in a device operating system.
The reasoning behind the decision is most widely believed to be a cost-cutting motive, allowing consumers subsidized purchasing options for ordinarily more expensive technology. The fact that the patent is coming from Apple is seen by some analysts as a surprise and a contradiction of Apple's reputation for delivering higher quality, more user friendly technology at a premium price.
The patent specifically covers technology that would allow "the operating system [to be] configured to temporarily disable a function thereof and present the advertisement in the device while the function is disabled," meaning that the ad delivery system would likely sidestep measures to block the messages by being an integrated part of the OS.
The patent would broadly apply to not only personal computers but also "any electronic device," citing mobile phones, hand-held electronics and game systems as examples. The application also mentions a "credit system" through which the ads could be disabled, but yet is not clear what this would entail.
Of course, the patent application is interpreted by some as a strategic move. Just because Apple is applying for the right to use the technology does not mean that they actually will, and in particular it could be a challenge to a potential Google revenue model as the search and advertising giant moves toward completion of its Chrome OS.