U.S. feds eye Apple mobile ad antitrust probe

“U.S. antitrust regulators plan to investigate whether Apple is unfairly restricting rivals such as Google and Microsoft in the market for advertisements carried on the iPhone, iPad and iPod, people familiar with the move said on Wednesday,” Joseph Menn and Richard Waters report for The Financial Times.

“Apple has introduced its own network to sell display, video and interactive adverts in the small programs known as apps, which have fuelled the rapid adoption of Apple’s devices. On Monday, it said it had sold $60m worth of adverts that will begin on July 1 and run for the rest of the year,” Menn and Waters report. “The case provoked a rare public dispute between Google and Apple on Wednesday as the internet group claimed its market-leading mobile advertising network was about to be unfairly excluded from the Apple’s devices.”

Menn and Waters report, “According to two people close to the situation, US regulators have already taken an interest in Apple’s actions, though it is not yet clear whether it will be left to the Federal Trade Commission… or the Department of Justice to take an investigation forward.”

“Apple’s latest rules for developers who create apps for its devices limit the situations in which they can send approved information about their apps’ audiences to advertising services. The information cannot be sent to advertising networks that are affiliated with companies developing or distributing mobile devices or operating systems – a definition that effectively excludes Apple rivals like Google and Microsoft,” Menn and Waters report. “Such information, including user locations, is critical for making mobile advertising more effective. Google complained on Wednesday that this would have the effect of barring its AdMob advertising service from apps inside Apple’s system.”

MacDailyNews Take: Tough. Enjoy watching the $750 million you overpaid for AdMob in order to snatch them from Apple evaporate into the ether, Google. When all is said and done, AdMob won’t be worth $7.50.

Menn and Waters report, “While [Apple] takes pains to point out that it lags in the US smartphone market behind Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, Apple has already triggered antitrust attention. Regulators have been looking into its marketing of digital music, where it is top retailer by revenue, and its blocking of Flash, the Adobe software.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: U.S. antitrust regulators ought to go investigate what U.S. antitrust laws regulate before wasting any more of U.S. taxpayers’ money.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Jersey_Trader” and “Judge Bork” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Note: We dumped AdMob for Quattro Wireless on our mobile (iOS-only) site on Jan. 5, 2010, the day that Apple bought Quattro. Our transition from AdMob to Quattro was completed in late February with the release of MacDailyNews 2.0 app.


  1. @breeze,

    does that mean you’ll be big enough to apologize if Apple is found to be conducting anticompetitive activities? Or will you be another blind follower who will change the subject and ignore reality?

    We’ll see. I’m confident here.

  2. I don’t understand the issue, how’s it anticompetitive to not permit outside ads on a closed ecosystem? AdMob et al can pump all the ads they want through Safari, but Apps, available through the curated App Store are completely different.

  3. It’s my understanding that Apple is trying to prevent companies/developers from gathering personal browsing/location data in order to protect their users. Am I wrong in this assumption? I think Steve even mentioned this at the D8 conference. I thought he said that he was shocked what information was being collected through analytic data.

  4. Apple is FAR form a monopoly in all they do…iPod would be closest. Phones? Along way off…

    MDN- irony in your bragging about Quattro’s annoying full-screen pop-ups… In fact, even your full-browser ads (god awful pop-ups) are EASILY the most annoying ads *I* encounter on the web anymore.

  5. MadMac you said the courts would find Apples actions anti competitive. The Obama administration is not the courts. Second they have not found Apple to be anti competitive, they are merely holding an investigation.

    Lastly the Obama administration is being very proactive and swinging wildly in the other direction from hands off as a reaction to the banking meltdown.

  6. twilightmoon:

    “Lastly the Obama administration is being very proactive and swinging wildly in the other direction from hands off as a reaction to the banking meltdown.”

    Due diligence.

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