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Apple Blocks AdMob - The War With Google Heats Up

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Although no one saw this coming, many (like myself) are not surprised that Apple made another change to their Terms and Conditions that once again provoked an angry response from a company that is negatively affected - Google.  The new TaC forbid non-"independent" ad-serving companies from collecting data, which essentially removes Google's signature technology from any advertisements it would put on Apple mobile devices.  AdMob's founder and CEO Omar Hamoui was not pleased with the changes and had some strong words for Apple on his latest blog post.

This whole thing began when Apple decided (seemingly) to do something nice (open) for a change.  The TaC change in April essentially banned third-party ad networks from selling in-app ads that collected user data on the iPhone or iPad.  Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the company wasn't trying to ban iAd competitors on its platform, it just wanted to stop third-party analytics companies like Flurry.  So Jobs promised to make changes, and they did so during the hype of the iPhone 4 announcement.  

The new ToS start off by saying that an application cannot collect, use, or share any user or device data with a third party unless they have Apple's prior written consent.  So that's one hurtle that everyone will probably have problems getting past.  Then there's this conditional paragraph, which essentially locks out any data collecting from Apple's rivals, namely Google:

"[After prior written consent, collected data may only be given to] an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent)"

That essentially rules out AdMob, since it's owned by Google - and they produce a mobile OS.  Omar Hamoui interpreted the terms this way as well:

"Apple proposed new developer terms on Monday that, if enforced as written, would prohibit app developers from using AdMob and Google’s advertising solutions on the iPhone… The terms hurt both large and small developers by severely limiting their choice of how best to make money.  And because advertising funds a huge number of free and low cost apps, these terms are bad for consumers as well.

Let’s be clear. This change is not in the best interests of users or developers. In the history of technology and innovation, it’s clear that competition delivers the best outcome. Artificial barriers to competition hurt users and developers and, in the long run, stall technological progress."

Aww shucks Mr. Hamoui, you did this news really surprise you?  This is the kind of behavior we've come to know as 'Apple being Apple'.  Expect more of it until people stop buying iPhones/iPads.  

eMarketer research says that the US mobile ad market (currently $600 million) is expected to increase by more than 100% by 2013.  Google's $750 million acquisition of AdMob was approved by the FTC last month.

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