Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why You’ll Pay to Watch Ads on the iPhone and iPad

The new iAds that Apple (AAPL) launched yesterday are interesting. But they had better be: You’re going to pay to see them.

This isn’t news, exactly. But consider it a reminder: AT&T’s (T) switch from an unlimited data plan to a tiered model means that everything iPad and iPhone users stream down to their devices via the carrier’s wireless network comes at a cost, measured in bytes.

So: Streaming a video to your iPad from Netflix (NFLX) or Hulu will chew up a lot bandwidth, and downloading an app will chew up much less. And clicking on an “in-app” ad, like the kind Apple is rolling out with iAd, will cost something, too: Each time you click on an app’s ad, the app makes a real-time call to Apple, which serves up a download.

How much will that cost you, bytewise? Web video producer Eric Spiegelman guesstimates that a tricked out iAd like the Nissan spot that debuted yesterday could require five megabytes.* Translate that into AT&T’s data plans, and you’re looking at something like six cents to 40 cents worth of data per iAd, depending on the package.

So not a bank-breaker! And again, no different than anything else you download to your iPhone or iPad. But maybe, depending on your use case and data plan, worth thinking about before you click.

If the idea of spending any of your precious data budget on ads really rankles you, by the way, you do have a choice. Either make sure you’re connected to a Wi-Fi connection before you click, or go completely offline, and you won’t see the iAds at all.

*Anyone else want to weigh in on the size of iAd downloads? Happy to hear your thoughts.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald