Apple Makes Good on Steve Jobs’s Promise, Invites Other Advertisers. But What About Google’s AdMob?
Last week, Steve Jobs promised that his iPhone and iPads would be open to outside ad networks. Yesterday, Apple made good on his promise, by changing the terms of its developer agreement. But the company may not have opened the door all the way.
Backstory: Apple’s original license agreement, released in April, appeared to effectively ban third-party ad networks from selling “in-app” ads on its gadgets by crippling their ability to track user data. In the absence of any clarification from Apple (AAPL), it seemed to me (and others) that the company was set on locking up its platform from advertising competition.
But last week at the D8 conference, Jobs either changed his stance or spelled it out, depending on your perspective: Apple wasn’t interested in banning rivals to its iAd platform, he said, it just wanted to cripple third-party analytics companies like Flurry.
And yesterday, Apple changed its legal language to reflect Jobs’s words. Here’s the revised language for section 3.3.9 of Apple’s developer agreement, concerning the use of data collection:
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.
If you compare and contrast to Apple’s earlier version, you’ll see the message is clear: It’s okay to collect user data to help sell ads–though you will need to get Apple’s permission to do so.
UPDATE: One important caveat here: It appears as if Apple may still be limiting its biggest potential rival–Google’s AdMob. Note the language about only allowing “independent” ad-serving companies to collect data: “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.”
Google (GOOG) certainly qualifies as a developer/distributor of mobile operating systems, right? The language also appears to disqualify potential rivals–if, for instance, Microsoft (MSFT) tried entering the mobile display market. I’ve asked Apple for comment, but I’m not expecting any.
Meantime, Apple’s language does appear to be good news for smaller competitors like Greystripe, Millenial Media and Medialets–though it may make them less attractive to potential acquirers
Here are Jobs’s own words on the topic last week at the D8 conference.