FTC Won't Block Google-AdMob Merger, Cites Apple's iAd as Competitive Factor

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced that it has closed its investigation of the proposed acquisition of mobile advertising firm AdMob by Google. The FTC had been seen as likely to oppose the move over antitrust issues, but cited Apple's recent announcement of its own iAd mobile ad service as a significant factor in the decision to not take action against the Google-AdMob proposal.

In a statement issued today, the Commission said that although the combination of the two leading mobile advertising networks raised serious antitrust issues, the agency's concerns ultimately were overshadowed by recent developments in the market, most notably a move by Apple Computer Inc. - the maker of the iPhone - to launch its own, competing mobile ad network. In addition, a number of firms appear to be developing or acquiring smartphone platforms to better compete against Apple's iPhone and Google's Android, and these firms would have a strong incentive to facilitate competition among mobile advertising networks.

"As a result of Apple's entry (into the market), AdMob's success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob's competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not," the Commission's statement explains.

Apple had reportedly been considering its own acquisition of AdMob before Google swooped in to snap up the leading ad company. Apple in turn acquired Quattro Wireless to assist in developing its iAd platform. Google's poaching of AdMob from under Apple's nose has also reportedly led Apple to become more serious about its corporate acquisition strategies in recent months.

Full details of the FTC decision on the Google-AdMob situation can be found in a set of PDF documents on the commission's site:

- Statement of the Commission
- Closing Letter to Google
- Closing Letter to AdMob

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