U.S. Government Still Considering Antitrust Investigation of Apple's iAd

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The Financial Times reports that the U.S. government is continuing to take a look at Apple's forthcoming iAd mobile advertising system in order to decide whether to pursue a full antitrust investigation of the service. The possible investigation comes just after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded an exhaustive inquiry that ultimately resulted in the approval of Google's acquisition of AdMob, with the FTC pointing to Apple's iAd as a competitive factor contributing heavily to its decision in that case.

According to two people close to the situation, US regulators have already taken an interest in Apple's actions, though it is not yet clear whether it will be left to the Federal Trade Commission, which carried out the recent Google investigation, or the Department of Justice to take an investigation forward.

Apple's latest rules for developers who create apps for its devices limit the situations in which they can send approved information about their apps' audiences to advertising services. The information cannot be sent to advertising networks that are affiliated with companies developing or distributing mobile devices or operating systems - a definition that effectively excludes Apple rivals like Google and Microsoft.

Word of iAd interest on the part of federal regulators first surfaced early last month after the company altered its developer terms to exclude analytics companies from collecting data on users, although details of the FTC's interest at the time were not revealed.

Earlier this week, Apple again tweaked its developer terms to permit some analytics data collection, but a requirement that such companies be "independent" from mobile device or platform developers appears to shut out Google and AdMob from the platform, a move which unsurprisingly drew heavy criticism from AdMob's founder.

Apple has become embroiled in a number of potential antitrust cases in just the last month or so, with federal regulators taking a look at Apple's Flash-to-iPhone compiler at the behest of Adobe, as well as the company's tactics in the digital music market.

Top Rated Comments

WilliamLondon Avatar
179 months ago
If an app is obviously malicious I would want Google to ban it and they would. They would never ban an app based on what app vendor a dev chose.

Take my post in context please.

Edit: sorry if my attitude stinks WilliamLondon. I'm posting like a right arsehole here. Bad goings on in the house of chaz and it isn't your fault! :(
Chaz - very cool of you, your edit comment, appreciate it very much!

Yes, semantics. The point I wanted to make is Apple isn't the only company that places restrictions in its marketplace. People get all hot and bothered about Apple's restrictions, but restrictions are restrictions, Android's are just different. They both are about protecting maximising the user experience, but they go about it in different ways. However, I *never* see anyone complain about the Android marketplace's restrictions, or even a mention of them in the context of attacking Apple's.

I like Apple's restrictions. They put *me* (the consumer) first, and I appreciate that. That's my point.

It comes down to data sets. The larger and more information they have the more patterns start coming out of it.
App ad providers aren't as lucky as they font know where or what app you are going to run without analytics of some kind meaning they may serve far less effective.
You both have now backed away from your original positions, and that was that you both said ads are ineffective without data. That's simply not true. Try driving down a road without seeing a big billboard - what would they know of you? That you are a driver? Passenger? Pedestrian? Bicyclist? Bus traveller? Just plain lost?<grin>

I agree data is more appealing to advertisers, but your original comment that ads don't work without it is just plain wrong.

Either that or the advertisers haven't figured out you *must* have data for an ad to be effective.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WilliamLondon Avatar
179 months ago
ads are pretty worthless if there is no data to back them up. Ads need to be targeted and they need to know about clicks, what they got and so on.

How do you think advertising works?

I call shenanigans.

I have a television that isn't connected to satellite or cable, but is just "free to air" or Freeview as it's called here in the UK - I have an aerial on the roof that delivers the signal to my television.

There are ads on all channels (except the BBC). The advertisers know nothing of my viewing habits, and nothing about me personally, yet they still appear. They only know that if I'm home during the day watching a television show, an advertisement for lawyers might hit the mark as I might be someone who was harmed by someone that can be sued (hence their offering).

When I buy a magazine, there are ads all through it - however, I don't have to give any information about myself at the news agent.

The point is that although advertising is made better with detailed information about me (the target for the advert), it isn't nullified (as you've both stated) when that data isn't there.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hobo.hopkins Avatar
179 months ago
p.s. Apple is turning into a bunch of goofs. Its funny how they try and brainwash us into thinking ads are going to be 'cool'......and 'interesting'......since when is watching ad a luxury? haha I have never enjoyed watching ads during a tv show I am watching...not even once. Why would it be enjoyable on a phone?

Why is that funny? The iAds idea is a good one. They are taking mediocre ads and trying to improve them. I have never purposefully clicked on an in-app ad, but I still love some things about iAds. For instance, accidentally clicking an in-app ad from iAds will no longer remove me from my app. How could people not like that?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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