updated 01:20 pm EDT, Sun June 13, 2010
Editorial: Google may not be in good faith
(Editorial) Apple is under fire from Google after the hardware company changed the language in its iPhone developer's agreement, prohibiting third-party ad companies from being able to collect usage data from iPhone apps. The issue is that Apple's change seems to mainly target Google's AdMob, Apple's staunchest competitor in the mobile market. Meanwhile, the move helps Apple, which will be able to collect usage data, and potentially gain an upper hand to attract advertisers.
For its part, AdMob isn't happy with the move. Writing in a recent blog post, AdMob's Omar Hamoui said that Apple's move creates "artificial barriers to competition" that could hurt both users and developers that want to be able to turn a profit on their applications. He also believes that Apple's move could eventually hurt the "technological progress" that should be affecting mobile advertising.
AdMob's concerns are understandable. After all, the company is now owned by Google, the world's premier online advertiser, and the company that wants to turn a healthy profit in the mobile space. But that doesn't mean that Apple is wrong to do what it did. Whether Google likes it or not, Apple is allowed to control what happens on its own platform. And determining how much access developers can have to information is a key component in that.
It's also worth noting that Google isn't so innocent in all of this. The company won't need to worry about Apple's iAd on its own platform, since Apple's service will be available exclusively on iOS. On Android, developers have no choice but to play by Google's rules, even if they're looser than with its mobile OS rival.
But Google wants to have its cake and eat it too. Not only does it believe that it should dominate Android OS advertising, it also wants to get all the information it needs to effectively compete on the same level as iAd on iOS. From a business perspective, it makes a lot of sense for Google to want that. At the same time, it makes a lot of sense for Apple to stop it.
Apple has invested boatloads of cash into iAd. Why should the company give its chief competitor, which, if allowed to run free, would totally dominate the mobile-ad business, free rein on its own platform? It's simply not sound business sense. And Steve Jobs was smart enough to recognize that, even if the government disagrees and decides exclusion is anti-competitive.
Still, maybe it's time we all realize that Apple is simply making its decision to benefit its own operation. And there's nothing wrong with that in spirit, if not necessarily in practice.
By Don Reisinger