On May 23, 2017, an Infinix user alerted me that they had started receiving ads on their lockscreen. This followed after an Infinix official had asked members of the Android 254 group on WhatsApp whether they would see it as beneficial to advertise their apps on Infinix’s Magazine lockscreen, an announcement was also made on the company’s forums that adverts were being added as a feature.
During our Infinix Note 4 Pro review, we noticed that the said adverts have returned and this time, it was not just the Zero 4 but there was an ad pushing users to get an app by the name “MagicMovie”. Similar to the Zero 4 ad that would redirect users to Infinix’s product page of the Zero 4 when users clicked on the ad, the MagicMovie ad would redirect users to a PlayStore link for users to download the said app.
Please note that the ads we are talking about mascarade as a wallpaper under the Magazine lockscreen feature on Infinix phones running XOS. The Magazine lockscreen is a feature that replaces your static lockscreen with interchanging wallpapers, that are accompanied by inspirational quotes, each time you view your lockscreen.
In an effort to get answers and understand why Infinix was pushing ads to users who had paid full price for their device, we had a chat with Infinix’s Marketing Manager, Amos Zhou. “We started doing magazine lockscreen because we wanted to share some warm messages with our customers on special occasions such as mothers’ day and Christmas,” starts Mr Zhou. He says that the Magazine lockscreen was implemented as a way to offer more value to Infinix customers and make them feel like a community.
“we don’t push any advertisements”
Well, it seems like the motive to make Infinix users feel like a community was quickly overtaken by the need to make an extra coin. When asked about the advertisements being served on the Magazine lockscreen, Amos Zhou was quick to deny these claims saying, “We just share some pictures of our new products and at low frequencies, we don’t push any advertisements, the Zero 4 is part of Infinix products”
According to Infinix, showing pictures of the company’s other products on your lockscreen is not advertising but just a way to make you (the user) aware that Infinix has product A and product B that would interest you. Well, the informal meaning of advertisement, according to Google is, “a person or thing regarded as a means of recommending something.” Showcasing their other products on a lockscreen that is meant to share inspirational messages with users, sure does seem like advertising to me; unless the company hopes to “inspire” you to purchase a new device or download their new app.
“…the customer would get paid to see the advertisements”
Amos goes ahead to inform us that the company has no plans to push ads to their customers, “We don’t have a plan to push ads to our customer. In the future, maybe but not on Magazine lockscreen, on our other products”
We are not against showing ads on the lockscreen, actually, it has been done before. BLU, a device manufacturer based in the US launched the BLU R1 HD that was serving ads from Amazon on the lockscreen. However, their device was being sold at a subsidized price and customers knew that they would get ads on the lockscreen before they decided to purchase the product.
If Infinix went this way, then showing ads on the lockscreen would be much welcome. The problem I have with the company is that they seem to be promoting their products on the Magazine lockscreen but dismiss this as being ads based on the fact that the said promos “are part of Infinix products.”
As we conclude our chat, Mr Zhou notes, “If we ever decide to push advertisements on our devices, the customer would get paid to see the advertisements.” He explains that before they venture into pushing lockscreen ads, they would add an option for users to opt-out and for those who choose to see the ads, they would be compensated.
For now, users will continue to receive subtle hints on the Magazine lockscreen to try different Infinix products. We do agree that the said ads are not intrusive and you can dismiss them by simply swiping to the next wallpaper or if you would rather not have such an experience, you could as well just turn off Magazine lockscreen.