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Why Apple's anti-AdMob move makes sense

updated 01:20 pm EDT, Sun June 13, 2010

Editorial: Google may not be in good faith

(Editorial) Apple is under fire from Google after the hardware company changed the language in its iPhone developer's agreement, prohibiting third-party ad companies from being able to collect usage data from iPhone apps. The issue is that Apple's change seems to mainly target Google's AdMob, Apple's staunchest competitor in the mobile market. Meanwhile, the move helps Apple, which will be able to collect usage data, and potentially gain an upper hand to attract advertisers.

For its part, AdMob isn't happy with the move. Writing in a recent blog post, AdMob's Omar Hamoui said that Apple's move creates "artificial barriers to competition" that could hurt both users and developers that want to be able to turn a profit on their applications. He also believes that Apple's move could eventually hurt the "technological progress" that should be affecting mobile advertising.

AdMob's concerns are understandable. After all, the company is now owned by Google, the world's premier online advertiser, and the company that wants to turn a healthy profit in the mobile space. But that doesn't mean that Apple is wrong to do what it did. Whether Google likes it or not, Apple is allowed to control what happens on its own platform. And determining how much access developers can have to information is a key component in that.

It's also worth noting that Google isn't so innocent in all of this. The company won't need to worry about Apple's iAd on its own platform, since Apple's service will be available exclusively on iOS. On Android, developers have no choice but to play by Google's rules, even if they're looser than with its mobile OS rival.

But Google wants to have its cake and eat it too. Not only does it believe that it should dominate Android OS advertising, it also wants to get all the information it needs to effectively compete on the same level as iAd on iOS. From a business perspective, it makes a lot of sense for Google to want that. At the same time, it makes a lot of sense for Apple to stop it.

Apple has invested boatloads of cash into iAd. Why should the company give its chief competitor, which, if allowed to run free, would totally dominate the mobile-ad business, free rein on its own platform? It's simply not sound business sense. And Steve Jobs was smart enough to recognize that, even if the government disagrees and decides exclusion is anti-competitive.

Still, maybe it's time we all realize that Apple is simply making its decision to benefit its own operation. And there's nothing wrong with that in spirit, if not necessarily in practice.

By Don Reisinger

by MacNN Staff



  1. SierraDragon

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Well said.

  1. Spacemoose

    Joined: Dec 1969


    AdMob Ads are Allowed

    AdMob just can't collect "user or device data".

    Naturally, Google/AdMob doesn't want to get developers paid by displaying ads, they want to harvest the private usage info, which Apple has just disallowed.

    Win for the consumer on this one.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google + analytics = Evil?

    Mr. Hamoui's "artificial barriers to competition" statement is ridiculous. Yes, it hurts Google's ability to generate analytics from iOS devices. But in a competitive market like the smartphone ad market, rival companies need to find advantages.

    iAds will give Apple an advantage because it appears to be superior to traditional "click for info" ads. iAds will be more engaging and could actually provide entertainment, as opposed to being pure spam. Users will prefer iAds to AdMob because, presumably, AdMob ads will still appear on iOS apps. So, all things being equal, advertisers using iAds will generate more revenue than those using AdMob.

    But from an analytics standpoint, which is the real issue, Google will be hurt badly by Apple's iOS analytics ban. Apple will have exclusive access to its iOS users' analytics, which drastically cuts down AdMob's reach.

    In the end, Apple can't lose. Not even if the government forces them to open up iOS to AdMob analytics. Let's say (and I think there's only about a 5% chance of this happening) Apple is forced to allow AdMob analytics to be sent to Google. Then in the interest of "fair competition," Google would be forced to open up Android to iAds analytics sent back to Apple. Apple would suddenly gain even more analytics from their rival's devices.

    And, just as on iOS devices, iAds would be a superior experience for users. It would beat AdMob on its home turf. The net result would be migration from AdMob to iAds on both iOS and Android. It would still be a win-win for Apple. They would get more analytics from Android, and iAds would eventually take market share away from AdMob.

    Mr. Hamoui should be careful what he wishes for.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. give_me_a_break

    Joined: Dec 1969


    some corrections

    "On Android, developers have no choice but to play by Google's rules"

    ---- you have this statement without explanation. could you please explain how developers have no choice but to play by Google's rules? as far as i know in open source software you can do anything you like.
    china has created OPhone. if you know progrmming (apps developer do), then you can change any layer of this Android OS, and can customise it according to your choice. you can add or remove any feature you like.
    China has created their OPhone out of Android core. They have removed all the unnecessary features (according to China) from Android OS and added their own features. Whenever they find any new useful feature from the newer OS release of Android, they just copy them to their version

    Comment buried. Show
  1. give_me_a_break

    Joined: Dec 1969


    some corrections (Google + analytics = Evil?)

    evil analytics?

    if you allow Add in your platform then the Ad provider can collect data from the request by the Phone. when any app opens an ad it sends a request to the ad server, the server can detect the type of the OS and based on that it can deliver the targeted Ad (sometime advertiser choose to send their adds only to a particular platform eg iPhone, blackberry). so even before sending the add to the device the ad-server knows what platform is asking for an add, and thats how they are generating market share data of any device.

    the comment "Google + analytics = Evil?" is full of misconception about the whole scenario.

    there is nothing

    Apple actually banned integrating AdMob in iPhone/iPad apps
    the company is prohibiting it from offering its AdMob advertising services on the iPhone. Apple June 7 revised its developer terms of service for its iPhone and iPad operating system to include language that prevents non-independent advertising technology providers such as AdMob and others from offering ads that run within iPhone applications. This paves the way for iAd to be the premier provider of in-app ads for the most popular smartphone in the country.

    all this restriction is becoming more and more negative issue to the platform. from "phone features" point of view iOS already far behind than android
    - no widgets
    - no wi-fi hot-spot
    - no battery swapping
    - no flash
    - no file system access
    - no wifi/cloud sync (we still need to connect PC, why)
    - no video chat over GSM/3G network
    - no optional screen size (smaller 2.8" or larger 4.3", 5")
    - no optional handset with qwert keyboard
    - no live background (adding wallpaper is a good improvement, but this is not a new improvement, Windows mobile in 2002 had this feature)
    - no wi-fi hot-spotting (like HD2 or Evo)
    - no battery swapping
    - no flash
    - banning apps like google voice
    - limited access to multi-tasking
    - no alternate desktop apps
    - no tethering (paid?)
    - no free cloud service (like gmail, google docs, google calendar, google contacts, google tasks
    they are all free, but Mobile Me charges 99$/year)

    the plus points of iPhone over Android are:
    1) apps
    2) smooth interface
    3) gyro (iPhone 4)
    4) less fragmentation

    i'll wait till iPhone 4 release and watch the new features in hand for three months then i'll decide whether to try android or not

    Android is catching up quickly in this three areas. i couldn't find any thing else in my 3GS that can give me enough reason to stay with it.

    apps: android already have 30000 apps (they have almost all the major iPhone apps), and Android apps are sometime better than iPhone apps because they can provide widgets and live background and can run as background process. iPhone is opening up multitasking, but still widgets and live background are missing. these two features will always give a big advantage to Android developers to communicate and engage their users in a different dimension.
    sometime they have their own unique apps too, like google voice, skymap, etc. some apps come to androids first then to iPhone (like my favourite wikitude and many other). android is introducing newer features to users and developers faster than iphone. magnetometer. multitasking was introduces in Android before Apple. Apple introduced multitouch before any mobile phone. Apple has introduced gyro before android. but still apple lacks of innovation in compare to Android pace. apple's new features are more improvements to smoothness rather than new dimension of capability

    smooth interface: Nexus one with Android 2.2 is as smooth as my 3GS. older androids can easily give excuses that they are running 8 apps at a time so the interface is a little bit stiff. android is introducing 1.2GHz, 1.3GHz, 1.5GHz (HTC Scorpion) & 2GHz with gyro (from Motorola) cell phones by the end of this year and will make it more powerful than iPhone4. we have to wait 6 more month to catch them.

    gyro: it is more for gamers. plus Motorola is introducing gyro to their android by end of the year

    fragmentation: it is more a developers & device manufacturers issue than the users. iPhone (1) didn't have GPS, iPhone 3G didn't have magnetometer, iPhone 3GS & iPad haven't got gyro, front facing camera, iPad haven't got telephony.... so iphone will never be able to say that older handsets have same features like the newer ones. iPhone is fragmented too. a bit less but fragmented. and with more fragmentation older Androids have more features than iPhone. thats my source of anger with my 3GS. earliest Android G1 and HTC magic can do so many thing that we don't even have any idea what we are missing in our 3GS.

    design? give me a break, some androids are really stunning too. with more than 60 handsets u can easily find a dozens that will catch your eyes. thanks to iPhone 4, at last they have changed the outlook.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple should not give AdMob one iota of data...

    Why supply the enemy with ammunition to use against you? Google and AdMob want 100% of the mobile space because the near 100% of the desktop advertising space isn't enough for Google. Apple isn't going into the search business. Apple probably wouldn't have gone into the ad click business if Google hadn't spewed that free Android all over the place. Apple would have had a much larger mobile hardware market and probably would have allowed Google to have all ad rights. Google got greedy and now they're unhappy because everything isn't going their way.

    So far users and developers aren't the ones complaining. It's just AdMob whining because that can't have everything they feel they should have. They'll already have 75% of the mobile ad click market, but they also want the 25% of iOS for extra measure. Why the h*** Apple can't do anything it wants on its own minority market share mobile platform is beyond my understanding. The carriers used to do whatever they wanted all the time before the iPhone came along. The Japanese cellphone carriers still do it.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. give_me_a_break

    Joined: Dec 1969


    apple is ripping its iphone users by blocking admo

    blocking other advertiser will impact consumer & advertisers directly:
    - Google have the largest amount of advertiser (adsense, admob) in the world
    - developers will have less ad without multiple ad source, so less revenue to developer
    - less revenue to developer will insist them to make the apps "not FREE" or "Paid Apps". this will make consumers to buy apps (Apple's revenue)
    - when apps are not free users will use less apps, so advertisers will lose their potential customers

    only benefit is going on behalf of Apple from blocking other advertising option:
    - Paid apps means Apple revenue from developers effort
    - only iAd mean Apple revenue from advertisers

  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Give me a break, give_me_a_break. Write ten thousand words on this subject, and it doesn't really matter, because your basic premise is wrong.

    AdMob can serve ads in applications on iOS - they only can't collect user or device data. Until you understand that point, maybe you should back off a bit - it makes your whole analysis wrong.

  1. jmonty12

    Joined: Dec 1969


    All Ads suck but...

    If, because of Apple's rules, iAds will have *any* capabilities that competing ad software can't offer then Apple is creating an unfair playing field. I bit that if we were talking about Microsoft then the same people defending Apple here would likely be arguing the opposite side. I own tons of Apple products but that doesn't mean I will not call them out when they do wrong.

  1. SierraDragon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple is not a Monopoly

    jmonty12: "...Apple is creating an unfair playing field. I bit that if we were talking about Microsoft then the same people defending Apple here would likely be arguing the opposite side..."

    In a space where Apple had 95% market share (like MS did in the OS antitrust decision MS lost that Bush let go but the EEU still pursues) then I WOULD argue the opposite side against Apple.

    However Apple does not and will not have anything remotely approaching monopoly power in the click-thru ad space. As a minority entity there no reason Apple should not be allowed to build its own competitive advantage by restricting competitors so long as Apple's actions are ethical and relatively transparent.

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