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Apple's iAd mobile-advertising platform is tearing hefty chunks out of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's mobile-ad market share — and it has only been up and running for less than three months.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, info provided by market intelligence firm IDC indicates that iAd — announced in April of this year and rolled out in July — will grab an estimated 21 per cent of the mobile-ad market by the end of this year.

Google, on the other hand, will slip from 27 per cent in 2009 to 21 per cent this year, Yahoo! from 12 to 9 per cent, and Microsoft from 10 to 7 per cent — but only if IDC's estimates are accurate, of course.

During his Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote presentation on June 7, Steve Jobs announced that the iAd platform had already achieved $60m in ad-buy commitments from the likes of AT&T, Best Buy, Chanel, DirecTV, The Walt Disney Studios, and others.

Jobs' presentation also claimed that Apple was embarking on the iAd adventure not to fill its own coffers, but instead "To help our developers earn money so they continue to create free and low-cost apps."

Which, fact, may not be pure Jobsian horsepucky. After all, those free and low-cost apps have helped to sell a boatload of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches — at least to some users.

And neither would running a break-even service to woo developers be a new arrow in Apple's dev-hunting quiver. In a call with reporters and analysts early this year, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that the App Store and the iTunes Store were "a bit over break-even," but that they offered developers a "fabulous opportunity."

Why would Apple be so magnanimous? "We think that's helping us a lot with the iPhone and the iPod touch platforms," Oppenheimer said in those pre-iPad days.

That said, as the world goes increasingly mobile, that ad market will almost certainly swell into a fabulously lucrative revenue stream — and, of course, Google would like its chunk of it to be proportional to its immobile browser-based ad hegemony.

But don't feel too sorry for inhabitants of the Mountain View Chocolate Factory. Although the IDC numbers show their market share slipping, Google's director of mobile for the Americas Jason Spero told Bloomberg Businessweek: "If we are losing share, this market is growing faster than any one we've seen."

At this point in the mobile ad market's growth curve, Spero inferred, it's a gold rush with more than just the big boys striking it rich. As BB points out, in addition to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! finding shiny nuggets in open view, other lesser-known services such as Jumptap and Millennial Media are projected to outpace both Yahoo! and Microsoft this year, and Ericsson and InMobi are also focusing their eyes on the ever-growing prize.

If Apple's mobile-advertising share share continues to climb, however, no amount of overall market growth will prevent one Silicon Valley grandee from munching on some tasty crow. Less than two weeks ago, Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz opined to an interviewer concerning iAd: "That's going to fall apart for [Apple]. Advertisers are not going to have that type of control over them." ®

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