Google hits out at Apple iPhone ad ban

Google today attacked Apple's apparent decision to ban some third-party ad networks from collecting ad performance data on the iPhone and iPad.

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Google today attacked Apple's apparent decision to ban some third party ad networks from collecting ad performance data on the iPhone and iPad. The latest brouhaha between the two rivals stems from new language in the terms iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad developers must agree to.

Ad analytics collection is prohibited unless it is "provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads," Apple's revised terms read. "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."

That seems to bar AdMob, the company Google acquired in late May for a reported $750 million, from Apple's devices. And that prompted AdMob founder Omar Hamoui to blast back.

"This change is not in the best interests of users or developers," said Hamoui in a blog post on the AdMob site today. "Artificial barriers to competition hurt users and developers and, in the long run, stall technological progress."

According to AdMob, the number of Apple mobile devices that reached its network in April outnumbered those powered by Google's Android platform by more than 3.5 to 1. Of all the ad requests it served in April, nearly 32% went to iPhones and iPod Touches.

"If enforced as written, [Apple's terms] would prohibit app developers from using AdMob and Google's advertising solutions on the iPhone," said Hamoui. "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."

Industry analysts agreed that the new terms, which were first reported by the MediaMemo blog, lock out Google's AdMob.

"The new wording could be interpreted as banning non-independent advertising platforms, like AdMob," said Karsten Weide of IDC. "It seems pretty clear: Application developers can't be on the AdMob network."

But Weide also acknowledged that it was possible Apple's intention was different. He has asked Apple for clarification, but has not received an answer. Apple also did not respond to a request for clarification from Computerworld.

"It looks like Apple is choosing to exclude its biggest competitor from the iPhone," Weide said. "That means more revenue for Apple in the short term, since ads would flow through its [iAd] system rather than through Google's [AdMob.]"

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