Google mobile ad chief fires back at Apple lockout
Jobs plays hardball in walled garden
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. ®
"Artificial barriers to competition hurt users and developers and, in the long run, stall technological progress."
That comment, in this context, is possibly amongst the most self-serving, idiotic statements I've heard this year.
It's an ADVERT-DELIVERY PLATFORM. It's not in the interests of any of the end users whatsoever, and with the excessive repetitiveness, tiny array of advertising companies and the regular cr*p we see Google's search engine returning to people whilst simultaneously stealing their personal information it's starting to become a wonder that people even bother with the d*mn thing at all.
Hmm, I just had an idea...
If Apple refuse to play along, and they will, then the solution to this is for every other company that has a stake in online advertising to play hardball straight back, and block access to all their sites and services from any Apple device. If Jobs wants his fucking walled garden let him have it. Let's see how long the Apple fanbois stand by their toys when they can no longer access Google, Street View, Google Maps, GMail, YouTube, Blogger, Bing, Hotmail, Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal, IMDb, CNN, News Corp and ABC. I don't think Apple would last long in the face of concerted firepower like that!
"...unless Google/AdMob can bring in the US Federal Trade Commission to pinch hit for them..."
The likelihood of the FTC calling it for Google would be based on whether or not the mePhone has the right to be a closed platform. So far, Steve is banking on the fact that it is, and it has.
Eventually, however, that argument will be broken. And it will only have to fall apart once, on one aspect of the law, for the rot to have set in and Apple's closed-platform philosophy will begin to unravel.
It is, at best, a short-to-medium term strategy. It may have worked over the past few years but it is utterly unsustainable.