Yesterday, All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka pointed out the possibility that Apple could be limiting Google-acquired mobile ad network AdMob from selling ads on the iPhone and iPad platform. The language was a little vague in Apple’s new developer licensing agreement, but indicates that only “independent” ad-serving companies will be able to serve ads. AdMob could be prevented from showing ads because it is not independent as a part of Google, which “develops and distributes mobile devices and operating systems.” AdMob founder and CEO Omar Hamoui told us hours before Apple’s new terms of the agreement came out that nothing good would come of disallowing AdMob to serve ads. But today the company has officially responded to the potential issue.
Hamoui confirmed that the current Apple developer terms “would prohibit app developers from using AdMob and Google’s advertising solutions on the iPhone.” AdMob is wisely using the developer angle to help boost its case. The post states that the new terms would hurt both large and small developers in terms of revenue. Essentially, competition is good for developers because the more ways they have to make money, the better.
AdMob argues that less competition results in decreased innovation and lack of progress. Separately, there’s the question of what happens if an independent ad network, like Greystripe or Millennial, gets bought by Microsoft or another large tech giant. The rule seems arbitrary.
AdMob does have a point, but ultimately Apple can decide to let whoever they want serve ads on their devices. But this clearly comes across as anti-competitive, which is ironic considering that the Google-AdMob deal was nearly crushed by the FTC for anti-trust grounds.These types of moves could lead the FTC to get involved if Apple products continue to dominate the mobile advertising market.
Here’s the full text of the announcement:
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.