AdMob and how Apple is torching $750mi in Google’s money

Apple recently altered its developer agreement in such that it allows independent Ad companies, or companies whose primary activity is that os serving providing ad services to collect the necessary information to serve the right ads.  This had been prohibited recently as Apple became aware that a statistics gathering firm was getting information about new Apple hardware and OS usage from tests the company conducts internally.

The new wording of the agreement, however, excludes companies that produce competing mobile products as the following portion of the document makes clear.

3.3.9 You and Your Applications may not collect, use, or disclose to any third party, user or device data without prior user consent, and then only under the following conditions:

– The collection, use or disclosure is necessary in order to provide a service or function that is directly relevant to the use of the Application. For example, without Apple’s prior written consent, You may not use third party analytics software in Your Application to collect and send device data to a third party for aggregation, processing, or analysis.

– The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided 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); and the disclosure is limited to UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes.

What this means is that the recent acquisition of AdMob by Google, essentially leaves them locked out of iOS devices.  All 100 million iOS devices: iPhones, iPods and iPads.    The acquisition of AdMob by Google, which has just recently been approved to go through, will essentially turn it into a company that is owned by a developer or distributor of mobile devices and thus makes Google’s investment in the company a really big waste of money as it is blocked out of over 100 million devices, a number which is only going to grow in the future.

While it makes sense for there to be complaints about this, as AdMob had been present in iPhones previously, it clearly was in no way a competitor with Apple in the devices or platform arena.  Now it is.

There are good arguments in favor or Apple not wanting to allow a direct competitor to gather information on how the devices it makes are being used.  Initially I thought that by same logic being employed here Microsoft should ban iTunes and Safari from Windows.  But then I realized it isn’t exactly the same.  Apple isn’t providing Windows developers with code to embed in their applications and send back information on how they are being used.  By the same token Apple is not blocking Google from publishing its own iOS applications.  Hummm…. perhaps it is if you consider  the Google calling application controversy.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.

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