Apple won a patent today that could either be the holy grail of targeted advertising–or an amazing piece of discriminatory tech. The new patent would let the company target advertising at customers based on their income and credit card limits.
According to the patent application, this technology would allow Apple to beam income-targeted ads to its mobile products. The patent would take into account the average income of the region a smartphone is being used in, and then mash that data with the status of a user’s debit and credit cards. In other words, you would arguably only receive ads for products you can afford.
As Gizmodo points out, this seems antithetical to Apple’s stance against exploiting its customers’ personal data. In an open letter back in September, CEO Tim Cook explained Apple’s privacy measures–and offered veiled criticisms of companies like Google and Facebook:
Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.
It’s important to note that technology companies frequently file patents for products they never plan to actually release. However, they do indicate directions for future research and development initiatives. Other Apple patent filings in recent years have ranged from fitness-tracking earbuds that read heartbeats, to peer-to-peer banking through iTunes, and solar-powered laptops.