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. It seems to me that no one understands that Apple’s iOS and OSX are proprietary software. They can allow or disallow other companies from having their material on it, hence the approval process for apps.

    When it comes to iAd, I think that it is ingenious…they are selling billboard space, and whoever can afford the space, can have their advertising shown on the iPhone network.

  2. Typical that Apple gets the extra scrutiny when it’s Google that is bullying. As someone posted over on the Mac Observer, and he is totally correct:

    “… if anyone is worthy of an anti-trust probe by the FTC or the DOJ it ought to be Google, the owner of that [ad] market, and not Apple Inc., whose only sin [Apple] is to stake out one corner of that market for their own, and put up no trespassing signs. If Google wants to claim the entire market as its own, with the right to trample down Apple’s corner, maybe it should be Google they investigate up there in Washington.”

  3. Apple’s approach to ads on the iPad and iPhone seems no different from any traditional magazine or newspaper handling ad content in their publications, or any TV or radio network doing the same. They have no power to limit ad business outside that. So it hardly seems like an ‘anti trust’ issue. It would be like saying that CBS had to run all the same ads as NBC.

  4. Any one here seen an official press release or public statement by a gov official indicating that such an investigation is ongoing?…….
    Thought not!

  5. Apple did Google a solid by buying Quattro so their deal of buying Admobile could go through. Now Google is trying to have it both ways. I cant help but think these rash of investigations are probably spurred by and maybe even funded by both Google and Adobe. What they are trying to prove is that Apple’s action is anti-competitive and hurts the consumer. I say good luck with that because Google’s consumers and Apple’s consumers are not the same. With Google and Adobe their consumers are Developers and Apple offers cheaper solutions to those consumers than does Google or Adobe. End User consumers , Apple’s primary concern, are not getting harmed at all, save the whining hackers that want customize their stuff to the nines.

  6. They are FUCKING ADVERTISEMENTS! Apple is setting up a premium network for premium ad space. On what planet does any ad company have a right to shove ads onto a system thru a third party with zero benefit to the owner of the network. Does the Shamwow have a right to fuck up “Breaking Bad” simply because there is an audience? People pay to not have to deal with ads, or at least not have to deal with any third rate shit someone wants to push.

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