Apple patents offline iTunes purchases using per-device ‘credit’ system

“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,417,575 for ‘On-device offline purchases using credits,’ which describes a system involving the purchase of offline credits stored on a given device that can be put toward media in the iTunes store even when not connected to the online marketplace,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“Currently, iTunes users must be logged in or have an internet connection to successfully purchase and download content from the online storefront, but Tuesday’s patent lays the groundwork for a type of ‘pre-loaded’ payment system,” Campbell reports. “Beyond the obvious applications for on-the-go iPod touch users and perhaps frequent travelers, the patent could be a harbinger of new never before seen iTunes functionality.”

Campbell reports, “Users can add credits to their device accounts either through the device itself or what appears to be a specialized portal on the desktop version of iTunes, along with other options… It remains unknown if and when Apple plans to roll out the offline crediting functionality, but the device-specific solution could theoretically be implemented with a firmware update as no hardware limitations were described in the patent.”

Read more, and see Apple’s patent application illustrations and diagrams, in the full article here.

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  1. Why the hell wod I want to pay them in advance for stuff I haven’t decided to purchase yet? It would be more valuable (and enticing) to me as a consumer if the would just allow my preauthorized selections to queue and automatically download the next time I have connectivity.

    1. As a parent I would put a specific amount on my child’s device that would be available to make purchases with the credit and not have access to log into my iTunes account. They would have the freedom (to a point) to decide on purchases and has to understand budgeting those purchases with a limited amount of credit for the month.

      1. That makes sense. I would prefer to be a filter to my child’s purchases even though it’s an inconvenient step. Of course if your kids are near adulthood there is little to shield them from at the iTunes Store that they won’t get from regular exposure to tv and school.

    2. Easy. My computer illiterate mother-in-law’s iPad is connected to my account. I sure as hell ain’t telling her my password, but if I put credits on her device then she would be able to make the occasional purchase without my intervention.

    3. @Ace Have you ever purchased an iTunes gift card for yourself or a friend? If so, you’re basically ‘paying them in advance’ for stuff you may or may not have decided on buying yet. When you decide on buying something, it’s taking away the credit you have on your account.

      1. Yes. I get that. But with an iTunes card you at least get the product when you decide to redeem it. Here, you pay in advance , make your selection later and then still wait to receive the download at an even later time. That’s some serious delayed gratification.

  2. Think of it this way for practical implementation…

    1. You have a credit in the iTunes Store. Say, US$25.00.
    2. When you’re connected to the Internet the mobile device (iPod or iPhone or whatever) downloads the entire genius suggested list to your device.
    3. When you’re not connected to the ‘net, you browse through your iTunes suggested list looking for new songs. You listen to a short segment of a song for free. You decide to purchase it.
    4. The transaction is done 100% within your mobile device. The song is activated and now playable in full length anytime you want to listen to it. At the same time the cost of that song is deducted from your offline balance in the device.
    5. The next time you go onto the ‘net, the system then syncs with the iTunes Store with it deducting the song price and your song purchase.

    The only problem I see here is having the entire iTunes suggested list taking up space on your mobile device that you cannot use for any other purpose. If the mobile device had 500+ GB I’d probably not mind it at all, but for a 16 or 32 GB device the suggested list could take up a significant fraction of that.

  3. There is more to this one. How can you even access and purchase something from iTunes, if you’re off-line? This has more to do with adding credits and being able to use an iDevice for a credit card like purchase at many places where you are perhaps not connected to Internet, or not having to be connected to the Internet for security purposes. There’s something really interesting here that goes beyond iTunes Store. I think this is an element of the iWallet disguised in the patent application as just an iTunes add-on..

  4. Wait, folks. When I first read it I thought the same thing, “Why/how would I buy content online when I’m offline so I’m paying for it… confused…”

    But then it hit me: iWallet!

    How would I conduct a transaction with someone in a dead zone where I have no wifi or cellular data connection? If it doesn’t work all of the time, then people will get frustrated. I think they are getting ready to allow peer to peer transactions via your iTunes account, and this would ensure that said transaction could be conducted even when no Internet connectivity is available. The device would allow the transaction, and save it until you’re connected. Boom! It’s the logical explanation for an otherwise illogical “feature”.

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