KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 – Do you like ads? No? Well, Apple is going to steamroller through your opinions anyway with its plans to expand its advertising platform onto more areas of your iPhone. The company is exploring new avenues to push paid content as it targets significant revenue growth in the business.

Worryingly, this rumour doesn’t come from any old hack, but from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, an analyst whose reports on future Apple products often turn out to be scarily accurate. Which means it will probably come to pass.

The topic of Apple’s advertising, he says, came up during its last earnings call, during which chief executive officer Tim Cook and chief financial officer Luca Maestri spoke of difficulties brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Cook said the ads are a great “discovery” tool for app developers.

Apple’s vice president of the ads group, Todd Teresi, wants to expand the business significantly, with the aim of increasing annual revenues from US$4 billion (RM17.8 billion) to double-digit billions of dollars. For the ads division to make more money, it will need more reach.

German believes the company will expand ads to search results in Maps, where business can pay to be put on top of local listings – something he says Apple is already exploring internally. They could also appear in searches in the Books and Podcasts app, as well as throughout the apps themselves. Even a cheaper ad-supported Apple TV+ tier may be on the cards, aping similar upcoming offerings from Netflix and Disney+.

Currently, Apple’s ads products are limited to the Today section of the News app (even with the News+ subscription), the infamous Stocks app and searches in the App Store. Apple already plans to put paid content onto the Today tab of the App Store as well.

All these things may feel like natural extensions of Apple’s current offerings, but it’s ironic that the company is pushing more ads to your iPhone at a time when it’s making privacy a key selling point for its products. It’s even moved to restrict other companies’ ad earnings with its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature last year, which allows users to stop apps from tracking them across other apps and websites. Meta (aka Facebook) said ATT alone cost it a whopping US$10 billion (RM44.6 billion) in ad revenues last year.

What’s more, Apple’s ads don’t need to show the “ask app not to track” prompt, as the company says they don’t track you across other companies’ apps and websites. This is despite it using its other services and your own Apple ID account to personalise ads. To its credit, Apple does allow you to disable this function in the settings, but it will still use data like your carrier, device type and what you’re reading.

Apple’s hypocrisy was made even more obvious in a report published by the Wall Street Journal on Friday, in which it was alleged that before the company made an enemy out of Facebook (sometime between 2016 and 2018), it wanted to negotiate a cut in sales of boosted posts and subscriptions for an “ad-free” version of the social network. Apple apparently argued that these offerings constituted as in-app purchase – which it earns a share of – but Facebook clearly held its nerve.

With this news, Cupertino will now need to prove that all its talk of respecting its users’ privacy hasn’t been just lip service, even with the additional ads fighting their way into your eyeballs. – SoyaCincau