Today it has been revealed that Palm filed patents looking into location-based advertising. (thanks Boy Genius.) This is especially worrisome because the Pre's webOS sends periodic reports back to Palm about your location already. In theory, Palm will soon be able to send you advertisements based on your proximity to stores, restaurants, and other places.
I doubt I'm the only one who finds this more than a little creepy. Palm certainly isn't going to make any friends by doing something like this. People tend to get angry when they see a company invading their privacy. A lot of the goodwill that Palm as a company has cultivated over the years will go out the window if they end up pursuing this. Those customers currently locked into their smartphone will be stuck, but I think new people will be much less likely to purchase a Pre.
Palm's patent goes so far as to suggest combing through your calendar in order to give you ads for things that you will be nearby during your travels. I can't speak for everyone, but I can't imagine many people casually accepting something so grossly invasive. Then again, I suppose this is the dawn of a new era. Advertising's bound to evolve along with the rest of technology.
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Things like this wouldn't be so bad if we could trade them off for less physical ads like billboards and fliers and gigantic hideous signs. I don't think I'd mind getting constantly reminded of a nearby McDonalds by my phone if it meant I could drive down the interstate without seeing billboard after billboard offering to buy my gold. Advertisers will never just take that stuff down out of a desire for cleaner vistas, but if mobile advertising becomes much more effective and much less costly, it could prompt a switch in practices. I'm still iffy of Palm, and I don't intend to use any smartphone that monitors my calendar and spams me, but it might just be a sign of an unavoidable future. If this is the trade-off we have to make for Zune HDs and solar-powered boomboxes, I suppose it's worthwhile.