From time to time we get a bit worked up about Microsoft finding new ways to advertise its services to its 1.5 billion users by adding ads to its operating system.
Spare some thought then for poor iPhone and iPad users, as compared to Windows it appears they are already deluged with ads to sign up for Apple’s services in every nook and cranny of the iOS operating system.
Steve Streza documented some of the ads on his blog, which includes ads for Apple Music, ads for Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Card, Apple Arcade and the iOS App Store. He notes that Apple’s ads are often full-page and woven throughout the OS, can not be avoided and can even be delivered via push notification.
Apple wants to grow their services business with drastic increases year-over-year. This means they are going to aggressively push more services into more places (including deeper into macOS and tvOS, which are also slowly having adware trickled into them). Apple TV+, News+, Arcade, and Card are all new this year, and are already strongly advertised in iOS. Apple Music has existed for a few years, and its level of advertising in the app is pervasive. As time goes on, these ads are going to get worse, not better.
Of course, Apple has a right to tell users about their services, and try to convince you to subscribe to them. And you might disagree with my assessment that some of these are ads at all. Individually, most of these instances aren’t insidious by themselves. But when you look at them together, they paint a picture of how Apple is making the user experience provably worse to boost growth at all costs.
This issue is not going to get better. Apple is going to expand its services, both breadth and depth, and the adware problem is only going to get worse, unless people call out Apple for what they’re doing. And yet, this issue is rarely talked about, likely because many of the people who cover Apple inevitably subscribe to some or all of these services. Gadgets like smart TVs and ebook readers are frequently criticized for their annoying, invasive advertisements despite their (often large) upfront price. It’s time for the tech community to recognize that Apple is no longer designing their products for a great experience, but as upsells to get you into the paywalled garden.
The strategy also strikes a rather hypocritical note when we recall that Apple is otherwise hard a work fighting tracking in the Safari browser, which undermines Google’s Ad business, while at the same time drastically ramping up its own unblockable ads for products which are often far from best in class and crowds out competition from better companies such as Spotify.