It’s Official – Apple Kicking Google Out of iWorld

I've written extensively about iAds here and here, and one question I raised has to do with Apple's policies with regard to third party data and ad networks, in particular AdMob. As All Things Digital notes today, Apple this week "clarified" its policy with regard to third party networks, and…

I’cover5_06.gifve written extensively about iAds here and here, and one question I raised has to do with Apple’s policies with regard to third party data and ad networks, in particular AdMob.

As All Things Digital notes today, Apple this week “clarified” its policy with regard to third party networks, and it’s hard to read it as anything other than a direct declaration of war with Google. In short, third party ad networks can run in AppWorld, but only if they are “independent”. Put another way, sorry AdMob, you’re not welcome here. (I interviewed AdMob CEO at the CM Summit Monday, and asked him about this. This was before the policy was clarified, but he seemed pretty certain Apple would do this.)

I think this is shortsighted and wrong. I also think it’s classic Apple. It’s a re run of the Us vs. The World mentality that forced the Mac into a corner back in the late 1980s. This time, Google plays the role of Microsoft, but it really doesn’t matter. Apple won’t let anyone play in their iWorld who might pose a competitive threat.

This is all we need now – a major platform war, with marketers and developers having to pick sides, cost of development, ad serving, analytics, and marketing services at least tripled (one process for Android, one for iPhone/Pad/Touch, one for Microsoft or Palm/HP or…. ). That’s not what the web is about. It’s disheartening.

AdMob’s response is here. From it: “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.

Let’s be clear. This change is not in the best interests of users or developers. 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.”

What do you think?

91 thoughts on “It’s Official – Apple Kicking Google Out of iWorld”

  1. Ronald’s question is instructive. Any objection to how Google has been running Adwords for 10+ years, John? Dust off some of those anti-Adwords posts so I can read how intellectually honest you are. Please.

  2. Guys, this is not analogous to AdWords. AdWords is Google’s platform for the site *it* owns, google.com. Apple doesn’t own the developers and apps who now have fewer choices for monetization on its platform.

  3. Ronald – great comment.

    If AdMob/Google is so intent on having an “open” system, then others should be allowed to run advertising in Google’s products, including Android-based products.

  4. (Good point Ronald)

    I don’t agree with AdMob’s response.

    “Because advertising funds a huge number of free and low cost apps, these terms are bad for consumers as well.”

    The word he left out here is “crappy”…advertising funds a huge number of free, low cost, and crappy apps – which dominate the Android market, and can be more easily avoided in the App Store market.

    If more ads are going to appear within my mobile experience, I want them to be as high quality as possible. Apple seems to be of the few companies addressing the quality of the ads.

  5. @Hans Only they are allowed to. Even quattro wireless, the company google bought seems to have an android sdk to include its ads in apps.

  6. I just spend like $3K on a Macbook Pro + iPad. As a developer I hate this type of activity but as a user, bottom line, Apple is making WAY better products than the competition and it is not even close. When does Microsoft wake up and give Ballmer the boot? I sure am glad I’m not a Microsoft shareholder. As for Google, hey I’d have bought a google tablet if it was available and competitive but it’s vaporware.

    The Apple store is a kicker, such a great strategy. Again, it might be bad for their big competitors but the Apple products are significantly better and I am going to buy the best product.

  7. for Google owned and operated sites, they are keeping 100% of the ad revenue. Nobody cares where they get their ads from. Likewise, who Apple uses on their OWN Apps or Webs pages is of no concern. They can monetize their own apps or sites however they want.

    An actually valid comparison would be if Google said that to be indexed in Google search, you must run only Google Ads on your site. And to show up in Google Maps, you must run only Google ads only on your site. And, of course, to show up in Android or Chrome, you must use only Google Ads on your sight or App.

    Yay, wouldn’t that be a great step forward!

  8. You guys are entirely missing the point. This is not about Google letting another ad network into THEIR search result page.

    This is about letting YOU choose the ad network YOU want in YOUR product that YOU have developed.

    I am free to use any ad network I want on my web applications. If I move to the Apple platform, I no longer have that choice. It has been taken from me.

    Don’t think about this from the standpoint of a consumer. Think of this from the standpoint of a developer who has been given precious little choice to monetize how they see fit.

  9. Google has said over and over again how the “web will win”. The web is Google’s platform, right? AdMob is free to offer monetization options to web app developers.

    They chose to sell their soul for 750 million to the devil. Take the money and put a lid on it.

  10. People need to understand there is a major difference between web pages, and a full computing platform. So the arguement of “Google ads only on google web pages” is out of context. IN Context, is that you CAN run many different ad types on Android.

  11. I would believe the analogue of Apple app store is Google search page, since you want to compare their primary platforms. Not compare one’s primary platform with another’s non-primary platform.

    Think of it, if Apple starts a web-search engine as a hobby* and let other ad-network participate in it, would you think that would have been analogous to Google search page? No, since then you would be comparing with one’s hobby with another company’s serious business. It does not tell much. Compare the serious products of two companies to understand the differences of their belief about others, such as developers and customers.

    *Of course, Apple might do an app search engine, then it is not likely to be an hobby but a serious business.

  12. Apple would seem to have the right to do this; it’s their ecosystem after all. But I don’t like it. When I ran ads on one of my sites, I got to choose from several ad servers, including Google and Yahoo. Indeed, Yahoo offered better monetization for me and a better, more relevant ad experience for my readers. As an app developer, I would want the same choic, and competition among ad servers. What if I want to monetize my app, but I don’t want my users to have the monolithic iAd experience?

  13. From one developer’s point of view, you make a choice. Either you are a Chevy or your a Porsche. Apple has exacting standards and a tightly controlled system, but once an app is accepted, they do so much of the work, manage the credit cards, deal with the dregs. I guess it depends on your perspective. From my perspective, I’d rather be a rose in a walled garden than one in a world of weeds.

  14. Thing is, I think that Apple would’ve been perfectly happy to have Google be their sole search and mobile advertising partner – and maybe even Cloud provider.

    Remember that Apple are in the end, a hardware company and a tightly focussed one at that. They don’t seem to show Microsoft’s – or indeed Google’s – desire to enter every market.

    They want to be top in the consumer media space, that’s true. But if they could’ve do so by partnering with Google, I think that they would’ve.

    I think that that explains Job’s anger with Google – not only does he (probably) feel that Schmitt betrayed him, but that he’s stupid – that he’s picked a battle that he not have, meaning that Apple now needs to spend resources that it rather would’ve not have in fending off Google.

    Of course, this is conjecture… But based on what Jobs has said countless times about Apple’s focus, I think that it’s pretty likely.

  15. Now we know why it was so important to bring Android to market … fast
    Apple proprietary devices having a closed monopoly on the mobile internet’s entry, could have closed the gates any time… as it does now… luckily too late.
    At least it reveals its true face.

  16. Wow guys. Really, read Simpulton’s post.

    This decision by Apple is like Google denying ad choices on Android apps or in Google Gadgets.

    You guys are dead wrong with the comparison of the app market to google.com. One’s a platform another is a website.

    Michael says it should be Apple’s right to make this choice. Right. Just like Microsoft has the right to stifle other browser-vendors on the Windows platform.

    Thank god for Android, otherwise we’d be living in an iWorld with only the choices they give us. Don’t you see how competition works? Without Android, iPhone wouldn’t have multi-tasking. Without iPhone, Androids would still look like G1s. Think about that for a second then apply that to the issue at hand.

  17. “Does Google allow other contextual networks to run ads on a site that has adsense on it?”

    No! Again, terrible analogy!

    Why would Google offer other networks’ ads to run through it?!?

    The DEVELOPER of the site can ALREADY choose to use another network. Get it?

    What Apple’s doing is the same as if every website on the internet were only allowed to use Google AdSense.

  18. I have my videos on YouTube. Can I choose my ad network to run along side my products which are the videos on YouTube? No.

  19. “I have my videos on YouTube. Can I choose my ad network to run along side my products which are the videos on YouTube? No.”

    A better comparison than most in these comments and definitely an interesting thought but I’d still say that a software platform is much different than a video platform.

    When you upload to YouTube you sign distribution rights to YouTube.

    That’s pretty different from a software platform where you solely own your program.

    Also, are there any video platforms offering the choice of ad network?

  20. “When you upload to YouTube you sign distribution rights to YouTube.”

    Aren’t developers doing that when they submit apps to be published through the App Store?

    At first sight, I looked at Apple’s move as ‘not cool’, now I don’t know.

    I do see how the Admob dude would be up in arms, though, as there may be some T&Cs from the sale to Google tied to performance on iPhone (I know I would have put something in there if I was Google).

    Just wondering…

  21. admob is netscape. iOS is the windows PC. Apple decided it wanted to be in the ad market and rather than compete, it will block. MSFT never even did that.

  22. i have to add my two cents in here too as pointed out by several: Does Facebook Does facebook allow other advertisers or other currency on their platform? Does Twitter allow others advertisers on their platform? And while the numerous folks here point out as to whether Google allow other networks to run ads in its search result pages, while it may not be an Apples to Apples comparison, nonetheless, it does show that Google is not as open as it “could” be.

    While i agree Apple is playing hard ball, they have every right to play tough in the world of business.

  23. appgenious — as long as the iPhone brings in $ for developers, they will continue to develop for it. and why wouldn’t they? at the end of the day most developers can’t be picky about the platform and hoops they jump through for it, they have to worry about getting paid.

    but I don’t see how that has any bearing on this issue — Apple’s aggressive anti-competitive business practices.

  24. Argh–

    Like Apple, both Twitter & FaceBook have also done well to capture developers’ mindshare and apps to support and help extend/grow their respective platforms. However, the question still stands: does Facebook allow other advertisers or currency on their platform? The answer I believe is no. As for Twitter, they recently announced that it is prohibiting 3rd party advertisers from in-stream advertising. http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/24/did-twitter-just-kill-tweetup-minutes-after-its-launch/

  25. Carmen Hughes —

    They are lowering the amount of spammed ads. What’s wrong with that? They’re altering the system to make a better user experience. Is denying AdMob making the iPhone a better experience? No.

    And I don’t agree with what you call “hardball”. Blocking competition is a bad thing. Imagine if Google started blocking Apple and Apple stores from google.com and maps.google.com. Or if it blocked Safari users from using Google. It’s an ugly thought.

    Playing “hardball” should be about making the best product. The iPhone4 is the best phone on the market and I bet iAd ads will be much sexier and more integrated with the phone than AdMob’s. So why bother cheating?

  26. Apple isn’t blocking all third party ad networks, just admob. It’s an important destinction and some of the anti-apple comments in this post are arguing on false assumptions.

    Google and admob made their bet. Time to run with it.

  27. I think part of the problem some of you have is that you judge Google as if it was some kind of poor, mom-and-pop open source operation run by two college kids in their basement, whereas Apple’s the awful monopolist.

    Google started in search. Great. They then developed AdSense. They then offered all kinds of free apps in the cloud. Great. (They “gave” them for free, but they still make a ton of money on them, right?) In fact, they seem to be getting into everything, including the phone.

    And they buy up a lot of stuff, 200 or so companies in the last four years, to Apple’s four or five. ClickThrough. And then, just when Apple was about to buy it, AdMob.

    What you’re seeing is competition? Don’t like it? Tough.

  28. Why did Google pay 750 Billion for Admob? It wasn’t for the revenues. The most valuable asset of Admob was all the user behavior data they collected.

    This is all about keeping valuable user behavior data out of the hands of a competitor.

    Admob and Google drew a line in the sand. Now they got to live with it.

  29. Oh, and if you read what Apple is forbidding, it’s not AdMob, it’s services that collect certain kinds of information without telling the users. I’m presuming that if AdMob changed its operation, they could be let on again.

  30. I think the Facebook comparison is best. Facebook is a platform that lets 3rd parties develop “applications” that access their user’s data. In FB, those application developers can’t bring in 3rd party advertisers at all. Apple did allow 3rd parties in, and now only “approved” 3rd parties will be allowed. That’s still better than FB’s policies.

    Another analogy might be television networks. They broadcast shows made by other people. They sell adds inside those shows to generate revenue. Should they be expected to allow other people to sell ads on the network they built? Who gets the revenue fron product placement? Apple’s thinks of the app store as their brand – it’s central distribution to their devices, a closed loop… not completely unlike a broadcast network.

    I don’t like Apple’s move, but that doesn’t make it wrong. I don’t think it’s good for advertisers, consumers, or developers. It seems to be in Apple’s best interest, however, and Apple can look out for it’s own best interests.

    As consumers and developers we still have the very viable option to jump ship and move to Android. If Apple pushes this kind of crap too far, the “walled garden” will crumble… it doesn’t do any good to wall off a “garden” no one wants to be in. Apple needs to make sure it’s better inside the walls than out… as long as they do that they will be successful.

    It’s a fine line… Apple can’t make too many decisions that make it less desirable inside the garden before things go bad. If it falls apart, we’ll know who to blame.

  31. Is Apple blocking AdMob from providing an advertising API to iOS developers? Or, are they preventing AdMob from collecting and sending device data to themselves for aggregation, processing, or analysis.

    Depending on the ad structure, AdMob could provide a developer an API and unique ID with which the user launches the ad or when the ad is pulled from a server the developer gets credit via their unique ID. Once the ad is launched, as Jobs said, typically in a browser window, then the browser itself will provide a certain amount of analytics data. The main drawback would be the use of location data, but doesn’t Safari provide that anyway?

    There will be limitations, but AdMob is now owned by a company which is going to use the data for more than serving ads.

    I don’t think Apple should be expected or required to allow their competitors to track how many people own iPhone vs iPad vs iPod touch. That’s inside knowledge that Apple has always used to design their future products.

  32. It’s an interesting gamble for Apple. With AdMob on the iOS, if an app developer didn’t like the iAd experience or payout, he could just switch ad servers but stay on the iOS platform. In theory, if Apple and advertisers saw developers doing that, they’d be forced to innovate to compete. Apple could lure them back with a better ad product.

    With iAd as the sole provider, an app developer now has to consider leaving iOS completely to get a better ad experience. And once they are gone, they are probably gone for good. It’s a typically risky “my way or the highway” move by Jobs.

  33. You guys don’t get it. Google, using Admob analytics could detect new Apple unreleased products (Just like Flurry did with the tablets) AND use that information to further develop Android. Admob gets 30% of their revenues from the iOS platform, that is the ONLY reason Google paid 750M for them. So now Google gets to collect all the exceptional info from iOS, and use that to advance Android. I don’t think so!

    This is war, an Admob is the intelligence officer playing both sides. Apple is cutting them off, which is the right thing to do.

    Google are the sneaky SOB’s that thought they could continue to glean valuable data from Apple and use it to kill them.

    In war, you never empower your enemies. Google started this war with Android, now stop crying and live with your decisions.

  34. Ronald has a very good point. Those of you who want to split hairs on web page vs. app are missing the point. Google has a platform that happens to be a website that locks other ad companies out. Apple’s platform happens to be iOS. So by not being able to select my ad provider when reading gmail is completely “open”, correct?

  35. Cripes, people need to read Apple’s revised dev agreement before freaking out. It doesn’t prohibit AdMob from running ads, it simply says they cannot collect device/user info while running ads (Apple correctly knows this information is competition sensitive). If AdMob can’t figure out how to adapt and work with this new rule, they don’t deserve to be in business. It’s not the end of the world. They need to deal with it.

  36. The move is not surprising.

    Other Ad networks are allowed by Apple, but not those owned by an OS competitor.

    I doubt Google Android will allow Ad networks from MS or NOK or Bidu.

  37. Hello! IAds isn’t the only choice for developers! They can choose any INDEPENDENT ad network.

    AdMob isn’t just an ad company. It’s an ad arm of a company that’s running a mobile platform division INTENT on killing iPhone (for our “benefit” of course)

    No sane person would give the competition unfettered access to their platform. AdMob made a choice when it decided to sleep with Google for $750 million. It’s like Target complaining tha you can’t run their own advertising in Walmart at ores or whining they cant do analytics on Walmart customers.

    The people complaining about how anti-competetive this is don’t know the meaning of the word. You guys just want to have it so that only Google gets all the rights in the world while competitors have to sit there and take it.

    Google chose to compete with Apple instead of working as a neutral party and partner. Stop whining! AdMob needs to grow up and compete instead of crying like a little baby.

    How? They compete by making money for Android developers instead of using the App Store revenue flow to cover up the fact that Android is making shit for developers. That’s real competition.

    AdMob belongs to Android now. You made your choice. Deal with it.

  38. I think Google really pissed off Apple when they came after the iPhone with their Android knock-off. Apple had Google’s CEO on their Board of Directors. They were betrayed. Steve Jobs is not someone you want to piss off.

    Now it’s payback time. Apple is getting even. Good for them.

  39. From the hysteria here you’d think Apple had a near monopoly on phones in the world – or wanted to have that monopoly. I have to call BS. Jobs doesn’t want world dominion he wants to make the best stuff possible and he’ll do what it takes to make that happen.

    If Google can help that happen then Google is a partner and if Google can’t or if Googld is a hindrance than goodbye Google. And you can insert any company name for Google.

    To understand Apple the first two things you have to jettison are a) Apple wants to be the biggest or most powerful. No. It wants to be best. b) you can look at the Apple/Microsoft era of the 80s to learn lessons to apply to today. You can’t.

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