back to article Apple bans geo loco ads on iPhone, iPad*

Apple has warned developers that they can't use location-based services such as the Core Location framework to deliver ads to iPhone, iPod touch, and - come March - iPad owners based on where they are. Interestingly, this ban appears to run counter to Apple's own intents as hinted at in recent patent filings. Thanks to Macnn …


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  1. Elmer Phud

    But . . .

    . . isn't location-based advertising what one would expect from the jesus-phone or moses-tablet ? Just enter 'snack' on the screen and a choice of artery-furring venues should be displayed.

    Eventually it could be expanded to 'dealer' or 'pimp'.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Of course it it, but you miss the point

      Apple does the only logical thing: it makes sure there's no prior art while the patenting process starts up.

  2. Steve Ives
    Paris Hilton

    May not be as it seems...

    Perhaps the word 'primarily' is the relevant one...

    Paris, 'cos she never sells out either.

  3. Martin Chandler
    Jobs Horns

    There should be a law against...

    preventing innovation! Clearly Apple are hoarding the location based services business to themselves and effectively slowing down the pace of prgress in that arena. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of advertising but locaion based services, even ones that generate revenue, are an exciting, relatively immature, technology arena and I for one am looking to see what true innovators can really do in this space.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      a law against..."preventing innovation"?

      Uh huh, yeah, alright. Can you define "innovation"?

      Oh, and I just love the second sentence in that paragraph; now I know how the pancake feels when they lay on the Aunt Jemima.

  4. Zack Mollusc


    Geo-located ads could be a really good thing. Right now, when a retarded advertisement interrupts my browsing and sends me into a killing frenzy, my only recourse is to kick my cat up in the air. I look forward to advertisers that boast they are 'only a stones throw from your current location', together with distance and direction.

    1. Rodrigo Rollan

      yes, that and...

      why not also add the creative mind behind the ad as well. I also would like the chance to give my warm regards to the bastard that spawned all femenine hygiene, detergent, toothpaste and many other obnoxious ads that predate our daily life. You hate the advertising industry ? would like to kick and ad executive's head ? There's an app for that !

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Down

      geo-location = "stalking" ads

      Sorry, man, but I can't think of a single instance in which advertising is a "good thing". It's crap like geo-located "push" advertising -- or, as I like to call them, "stalking" ads -- that makes me glad I have a "dumb" phone.

      Oh, and quit kicking your cat. It's not her fault.

    4. Player_16

      You ask for multitasking...

      ....and Apple tries to keep it off. There's no satisfying anyone!

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Better to only have one application sending location based ads than all of them!

  6. Dafydd Lawrence


    How will that affect Google's plans for streetview/Maps that have location aware Ads?

    Isn't that the whole point of Google investing so heavily in the mapping arena?

  7. Patrick O'Reilly
    Jobs Horns


    Since Google bought AdMob, they probably want as little data as possible heading to Mountain View.

    Or they got annoyed when the mobile ad brokers start selling statistics on iPhone useage by location.

  8. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    They may have patented it then decided it was too offensive.

    Conversely, if they HAVE patented it, then they CAN keep it for themselves to make money on. That's what patents are FOR.

    But the way I read it, the instruction to developers is to deliver "beneficial information" to users, to keep the qmality up. It's considered that "targeted ads" do not count as beneficial information. I'm slightly tempted to shout "Hurrah!" and buy an iPad just for that declaration.

    And if I find it' s full of location-targeted ads by Apple... I could always change my location!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      beneficial information...commy propaganda...

      slightly tempted?.... you should move to china because they think that only beneficial information should be sent over the Internet as well...I find it strange the companies that should innovate and create freedom are the ones blocking it....

    2. Martin Chandler

      What are Patents For?

      Patenst are not primarily meant for making money, though that is of course how it is used in our predominantly capitalist society. The idea (or ideal?) behind patents is that it encourages inventors and innovators to publicly document their creations so that others can make use of it also. It also provides a revenue so that the originator is fairly compensated. Therefore the primary purpose of patents is to generate and promote innovation. Sadly too many abuse patents to beef up their own coffers and stifle innovation in the process.

  9. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Toyotacide Minicab

    I Am Just Turning Into Your Road Now

  10. Paul Banacks

    Defective by Design

  11. Sebastian Brosig
    Jobs Horns

    lost the plot

    the reason why many people don't mind google's ads too much is that they are

    a) not too intrusive

    b) frequently RELEVANT.

    Yes i may not want a pizza right at the minute my brand XXXX smartphone tells me there's an ace pizzeria nearby, but i'm more likely to want that than an ad for a pizzeria 25 miles away.

    Get a grip, greedmongers.

  12. Mo McRoberts

    UX issue

    It's a straightforward UX issue

    If apps request location information, the user must confirm. This is fine if the app uses location information for useful stuff.

    However, if the app JUST uses it for ads, then it makes the advertising even more obnoxious than before.

  13. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    "Doomed! We're all doomed!"

    I don't think this is quite the horror story the author makes it out to be. From the quote:

    "If your app uses location-based information PRIMARILY to enable mobile advertisers..."

    I've emphasised the qualifier Apple used: "Primarily". If your app's *primary* purpose in using geo-location data is to serve up ads, you're screwed. But this doesn't rule out such adverts completely. It just means Apple will have fewer ad-centric applications on their store.

    Apple don't make much money from their own software; they see it merely as a means of differentiating their hardware from their competitors'. Google's business model isn't something Apple are likely to imitate: it would effectively kill the whole Apple branding and goodwill, which Apple rely on very heavily.

    Apple may be control freaks, but that's because of their design philosophy, which requires complete control over the entire user experience, from hardware, through software and right down to the box their stuff comes packaged in.

    But then, Apple don't *need* ad revenue: they make plenty of money from selling hardware. As their recent profit reports prove.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    No thankyou

    I don't care who does it, or how often. I don't want it. Ever. Any phone that bombards me with ads will suffer a toilet accident so that I can replace it with one that does not.

  15. chr0m4t1c

    Wrong end of stick?

    I read these patents as being for local wireless services push stuff out to devices in the immediate vicinity (probably over wi-fi or Bluetooth), so I don't see a policy clash.

    For example, a music store would have a system that sent out the name of the currently playing track via Bluetooth; it would only be able to reach devices in range, so would be location specific

    Only problem is, this sort of thing already happens.

    While travelling on the Tube a few months ago I had an attempted connection from "Dr Parnassus" every time I used a particular station. I didn't think about it at the time, but this was almost certainly an attempt to advertise the film "The Imaginarium Of ...".

    I guess the problem these type of adverts have at the moment is most devices ask if they can accept the connection, which gives the user a chance to ignore the advert completely, or be so annoyed that they never buy the product.

    This looks like an attempt to create a framework to accept this stuff automatically. Or create a security hole as we might phrase it here on El Reg.

  16. TeeCee Gold badge
    Jobs Horns

    Or, in other words.

    Apple to 3rd party app developers: "You're not allowed to screw the owners of our shiny toys. Your job is to hold them down while we screw them."

  17. marc 9

    It'll be because of battery

    The GPS receiver on the iPhone seems to eat a lot of battery life, I wouldn't be happy with an application that drained my battery just so it could show me an ad! Seeing as battery life is the the reason they give for now allowing multitasking, I'd hazard a guess that it's the same reason here.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    The fact that such mind-numbingly obvious "ideas" are worthy of being patented, without so much as a single comment, is the more surprising part of this story; rather than just another example of Apple's plan for world domination.

    +1 for the patent system and large corporations; and -1 for small innovators, just to balance the equation.

  19. Doc Spock

    Utility vs. Privacy

    In theory, I agree that targeted ads are better than random ads, simply because they are likely to be more relevant. However, having targeted ads delivered via geo-location (or even user-profiling - *cough* Phorm *cough*) is BAD. And for one very simple reason: privacy.

    If Google, Starbucks, Disney, etc want to send me targeted ads, then they'd better do it by means of me being in the vicinity of their adverts, not by finding out where I am. For example, a shop can send out adverts to any device within 50m advertising its promotions (of course, such adverts should be opt-in and blockable). Or said shop can set up an agreement with the local cinema to advertise to cinema-goers. Basically, in much the same way that traditional billboard advertising works - uni-directional.

  20. Bob 18

    I dunno...

    I'm doubtful about location-based services overall. Sure, high-flying technorati executives may find themselves in unfamiliar cities on a daily basis and could find this stuff to be a god-send when they just gotta get a snack (or find a loo?).

    But the average Joe --- we actually know where we are on a day-to-day basis. Most cities and business districts just aren't that big, and we're familiar with them, and we know what's what in the end. Even in big cities --- how many New Yorkers look at the subway map on a daily basis (answer: almost none, they already know where they're going).

    And if you need something and DON'T know where it is --- photo processing, for example --- the logical thing to do is to look it up at home BEFORE you go out. I pity the person who tries to order digital prints by rushing outside the house with an iPhone, and then trying to find an appropriate place to do it.

    Location-based services might find some good niches here or there. Maybe especially for that oldest profession (NOT photo processing) that is meant to satisfy last-minute urges. But I don't think they'll be a killer app.

    1. Martin Chandler

      Re; I dunno

      "I pity the person who tries to order digital prints by rushing outside the house with an iPhone, and then trying to find an appropriate place to do it."

      You pity the person as you expect it to fail miserably. You therefore recommend doing research before heading out.

      To me this is very short-sighted. I admit that your advice is the probably suitable for the here and now but once Location Based Services (LBS) matures to a suitable level, there is no reason why someone couldnt wait until they are in the street before looking up the best place to print some photos or whatever. By your reasoning, back in the 90's you would pity someone who didnt make their important phone call before they left the house. Now, mobile phone technology has matured to the point where I can make an important call anytime and almost anywhere.

      Furthermore, LBS isnt just about advertising or finding our way around, it can potentially be about anything e.g. hailing a taxi, shopping, sight-seeing, history etc etc

  21. Chris Hart


    I can still think of an app that would be very beneficial to the consumer, though it's sole purpose would technically be location-specific ads. Now, for this to be most effective, you gotta get gas stations to cooperate, as well. If I'm on a trip, and my car is telling me I have about 60 miles left in the tank, I'm probably gonna be looking for fuel. If I can look at an app that tells me prices, and I see that in another 30 or 40 miles, prices drop significantly, or go up significantly, that is very useful information.

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