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Steve Jobs' dream of ad-supported operating systems almost came true

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 27 Apr 2012 21:06 User comments (11)

Steve Jobs' dream of ad-supported operating systems almost came true In 2008, Apple applied for a patent for ad-supported operating systems in which users would receive the operating system at a largely discounted price (or even free) in exchange for having to watch occasional advertisements.
Steve Jobs was listed as the lead inventor on the patent, which eventually surfaced in 2009.

Ken Segall's new book, "Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success," reports that Jobs looked to originally implement the OS starting in 1999 with the release of OS 9.

At the time, the Mac OS cost $99 to upgrade, but Jobs had the idea to sell the full price upgrade alongside a second version which would be free and supported by ads. Apple would win either way as it would generate money through advertising whilst also gaining market share as more people moved to Mac due to the price. If a free user ever wanted to get rid of ads, they could update to the full-price version.

In Jobs' visions, the ad-supported version of Mac OS 9 would have displayed "a 60-second commercial from a "premium" company at startup, with the ads occasionally being automatically swapped out for new ones over the Internet." Targeted ads were also expected, such as one from Epson whenever a user's printer ran low on ink.

It is unclear why Jobs eventually scrapped the idea.

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11 user comments

127.4.2012 21:27

"It is unclear why Jobs eventually scrapped the idea..."

I think it's quite clear why he dropped it. No sensible computer user is gonna tolerate having to watch advertisements on their home computer just to get things done.

227.4.2012 21:42

Originally posted by ivymike:
"It is unclear why Jobs eventually scrapped the idea..."

I think it's quite clear why he dropped it. No sensible computer user is gonna tolerate having to watch advertisements on their home computer just to get things done.
People have done A LOT more to save $100 than watch an ad at startup.



327.4.2012 23:33

FUCK that.
I would NEVER have an OS that requires Ad support just to use the system.
What if it's time to watch and Ad and my internet goes out and I have a term paper to write?
No way in hell would I ever go along with this.


Carpe Noctem

428.4.2012 2:11

do you watch tv?.......

528.4.2012 2:15

Originally posted by flyingpen:
FUCK that.
I would NEVER have an OS that requires Ad support just to use the system.
What if it's time to watch and Ad and my internet goes out and I have a term paper to write?
No way in hell would I ever go along with this.
do you watch t.v?.....you might want to read the article before offhanded remarks like you just posted are made.

628.4.2012 4:06

This system should have made it to shelves already. It needs to be implemented in games also. I would have loved to have gotten skyrim or mw3 for free with a few in game ads.


Buy the ticket, take the ride. -H.S.T.

728.4.2012 13:38

A few years ago, I think this concept had *zero* chance of success. But now, there are MANY users who have been "conditioned" to accept ads - of varying obtrusiveness - in their free software. That's exactly how ad-supported free software works in the iOS and Android ecosystem, after all.

I currently have only 1 ad-supported app for Android, MX Player. It has a rather small banner at the bottom of some menus. It's not in any way obtrusive or annoying.

Frankly, I'm willing to bet the ad-supported OS sees more income (over time, per user) than the paid-for versions. And M$ and Apple are all about that continuous "revenue stream"... I'm willing to bet we see something along these lines pretty soon (in the next 5 years, perhaps) in the OS market.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 28 Apr 2012 @ 13:39

828.4.2012 15:57

Not worse than Microsoft wanting to "lease" Windows (provide it at no initial cost, but charge a monthly usage fee to keep it activated).

928.4.2012 16:05

Originally posted by Burnasty:
This system should have made it to shelves already. It needs to be implemented in games also. I would have loved to have gotten skyrim or mw3 for free with a few in game ads.
Well... there is such a thing as 'product placement' & that hasn't kept TV or movie prices down in the slightest. So whiles it all sounds good in theory, it'll never work in fact as these bastards are as greedy as they come.

Call it the 'removing one olive from the bottle' money maker.

Personally, Jobbs came up with this idea so as to patent it solely & have it on the books so he could sue the shit out of anyone who used it. That, or charge an exorbitant rate for the use of the idea on any software that used the pattern in it's execution.

Jobbs was WAY too self absorbed to ever give a shit about giving anything back to anyone, much less "give it away". No, this wasn't the act of a saint by any stretch of the imagination.

104.5.2012 9:45

I'm sure if they ever did this, within weeks some hacker somewhere would find a way to block/stop the ads..just like with DVD copy protections...

116.5.2012 11:30

Since everything we use today is so infested with ads, it only makes sense to get it for free. People are more than happy to spend their monthly salary on a TV only to end up seeing ads one third of the time they watch TV.

Most users would jump on the idea of getting a free OS. Anybody who thinks people wouldn't tolerate the ads has no idea how anything works today and is still thinking with a pre-1800 brain.

I think the only reason they didn't go forward with it is because the potential customers didn't have Mac hardware. This would work perfectly with a PC OS because everybody already has the hardware so all they need to do is to get the OS for free. But when people have to buy the hardware first and then get the OS for free, well it defeats the purpose of getting something for free. Mac simply didn't have enough marketshare to pull this off.

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