Apple is reportedly set to expand its advertising further into iPhones and iPads, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman (opens in new tab), And that could be a very bad idea.
As it stands, Apple currently serves up ads in the likes of the App Store, News and Stocks apps, though these are fairly low-key ads that don’t exactly pop up blaring banners onto your iPhone or iPad display. But in order to make more money, Gurman claims Apple plans to build out this take on integrated advertising and potentially serve ads in other apps like Maps and Apple Books.
Now, as someone who fairly recently moved from Android to iPhone, I’ve been enjoying the simple design and consistent experience iOS provides on an iPhone 13 Pro; this being my iPhone of choice for now, due to its great 120Hz display and excellent camera suite. But the idea of more ads being served up — even on a low-key basis — is very worrying.
I feel it would dilute an already slick experience; sure IOS can verge on being a little dull at times compared to say One UI on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, but it really does "just work." More adverts could further obscure things I want to quickly look for and access on my iPhone, and thus turn a smooth experience into a frustrating one.
Furthermore, Apple looking at serving up more apps, especially if they rely on user data, seems to fly in the face of Apple’s policies on privacy and data security. Sure, I imagine Apple will integrate such a feature with some skill, but it seems to be somewhat against its core values.
And I’m not sure that I should be served up ads if I’ve already shelled out some $1,000 in a smartphone. I should be able to enjoy it as a piece of hardware and neat software, not an ads platform. With Apple tipped to raise the price of its next-gen iPhone with the iPhone 14 Pro, it may be an even bigger kick in the teeth to then get served up more ads.
Apple: Antitrust antagonist?
Aside from the consumer pain, there’s a chance that such an advertising push by Apple, if it is indeed legitimate, could be an antitrust lawsuit waiting to happen.
Gurman claims Apple plans to boost its revenue into “double digits” rising from the $4 billion is currently makes from ads. Yet the Cupertino company has had a fairly staunch stance on advertising within iOS, with the introduction of the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) features (where users can decide if they want to be tracked), introduced in iOS 14.5 last year. This reportedly had a dramatically negative impact on Facebook’s ad revenue generated from iPhones, as well as that of other smaller businesses.
So Apple potentially using its platform and reach to boost its own advertising business, while hampering third-party advertising processes, may not only seem dryly ironic but also as an anti-competitive move by Apple, and thus open it up to antitrust lawsuits.
Now caveat emptor here, we don’t know if this will come to pass, though Gurman’s reporting is usually on the money. If it does, I feel it could be a bad move from both a consumer and industry perspective.
Sure, I get Apple has shareholders and it's still a business, regardless of the green and ethical values it often trumpets. But Apple makes plenty of money through the App Store, its services and its hardware sales. So I’m not convinced an increase in ads is the way to go, as iPhone users annoyed could end up doing the reverse of me and move to Android, especially when the selection of best Android phones are now very strong indeed.