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Google mobile ad chief fires back at Apple lockout

Jobs plays hardball in walled garden

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google's mobile-advertising chieftan is none too happy about a recent tweak to Apple's developer agreement that locks his service's ads out of Cupertino's iPhone OS iOS devices — "magical and revolutionary" or not.

"Let's be clear. This change is not in the best interests of users or developers," writes AdMob's founder and CEO Omar Hamoui in a post on the company blog.

"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."

As The Reg reported on Wednesday, Apple has released an updated version of its Developer Program License Agreement that a rational observer could argue is targeted specifically at Google's AdMob mobile ad-delivery service.

As reprinted by All Thing Digital, the new language states that an app "may not collect, use, or disclose to any third party" any user or device data "without Apple's prior written consent". What's more, Apple tells developers, "You may not use third party analytics software in Your Application to collect and send device data to a third party for aggregation, processing, or analysis."

If you are a starry-eyed optimist who believes that, shucks, Apple might out of the goodness of its heart generously provide such "prior written consent" to its Mountain View rival, think again. The following section of the agreement is more explicit, blocking collection and use of such data unless it:

...is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (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).

Hmmm... That language kindasorta locks Google's AdMob out of iOS devices, doesn't it?

Hamoui certainly thinks so. "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," he writes.

And not only is that lock-out bad for Google/AdMob, Hamoui argues, it's also bad for both developers and users:

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.

Jobs, however, believes that devs can pocket plenty of cash by staying on the iOS platform and opening their apps up to Apple's new mobile advertising service, iAds. During his keynote presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs told developers: "I would encourage you, if you're interested, to sign up for iAds, get the necessary stuff built into your apps, and let's go put some ads out there and help you make some money — because that's our goal in this: to help you earn money so you can continue to create free and low-cost apps to delight users."

And, of course, to entice consumers to buy more iOS devices.

In the States, there's a baseball-derived expression to describe Apple's update of the developers agreement to include Google/AdMob lock-out language: "playing hardball", which Merriam-Webster defines as "forceful uncompromising methods employed to gain an end". To continue the baseball lingo, Steve Jobs has just fired some head-hunting hard cheese at Hamoui and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Hamoui notes that "...we'll be speaking to Apple to express our concerns about the impact of these [developers agreement] terms." The Reg, however, believes that unless Google/AdMob can bring in the US Federal Trade Commission to pinch hit for them, they're going to strike out against the fireballing Jobs. ®

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