Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google on Apple’s AdMob Ban: Hey! Don’t Do That!

Still haven’t heard back from Apple about its new data collection policy, which basically shuts Google out of the display-ad market for its iPhone and iPad apps. But Google’s AdMob has now mustered a response: It doesn’t like it!

Full text of AdMob boss Omar Hamoui’s response is below. But there’s not a lot more to it than that. What else can he say?

Hamoui notes, correctly, that Apple’s policy will limit the choices of the developers it is trying to woo to its platform: They’ll be able to use Apple’s iAds and ads from independent ad networks, but not from the biggest player in the market.

And since the point of iAds, per Apple (AAPL), is to make money for its developers–Steve Jobs says the ad business won’t be meaningful for his company’s P&L–then you’d think he would want as much choice as possible. But as I’ve noted before, Apple has repeatedly limited choice–and revenue–in pursuit of other goals. So this can’t be a total shock.

Apple’s new policy may also dampen investment in the mobile-ad business, or at least parts of it. Since Apple is allowing only “independent” ad companies to transmit data, it makes it a lot harder for those companies–Greystripe, Millenial, and Medialets, for starters–to sell themselves to big mobile players like Microsoft (MSFT), Research In Motion (RIMM), Palm (PALM)/Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), etc.

But it may be hard for Google (GOOG) and AdMob to get to worked up about Apple’s policy, since Apple has already done them a huge solid. The company’s entry into the ad market helped persuade federal regulators to bless Google’s $750 million purchase of the mobile ad network, a deal that appeared to be in jeopardy for quite some time. Steve Jobs giveth, and Steve Jobs taketh.

Mobile advertising and the iPhone
June 9th, 2010

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. These advertising related terms both target companies with competitive mobile technologies (such as Google), as well as any company whose primary business is not serving mobile ads. This change threatens to decrease–or even eliminate–revenue that helps to support tens of thousands of developers. 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.

Since I started AdMob in 2006, I have watched competition in mobile advertising help drive incredible growth and innovation in the overall ecosystem. We’ve worked to help developers make money, regardless of platform–iPhone, Android, Palm Pre, Blackberry, Windows, and others. In the past four years, AdMob has helped tens of thousands of developers make money and build real businesses across multiple operating systems.

I’ve personally worked with many iPhone app developers around the world, including one who created a fun and simple game in the early days of the App Store. He built the app because he was interested in the challenge. He built this single app into a multi-million dollar advertising revenue stream with AdMob, hired a whole team, and turned a hobby into a real business.

We see these stories all the time.  We want to help make more of them, so we’ll be speaking to Apple to express our concerns about the impact of these terms.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik