When Apple announced the acquisition of mobile ad firm Quattro Wireless back in January I wrote a post arguing that they were likely to leverage their control over the advertising ecosystem to the detriment of developers and content owners – and now they have.
On Monday Apple announced new Terms of Service for developers on their platform to eliminate collection of analytics by third parties, meaning that an ad network like Admob wouldn’t know anything about where its ads were showing, not even if they were on an iPad or an iPhone. In practice this will mean that Admob’s ads are not targeted at all well and perform badly, both for advertisers and the developers who are seeking to monetise their assets. For more detail on the how this works see ReadWriteWeb or Ars Technica.
This is bad news for the ecosystem. In the words of John Battelle:
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…. ).
and in the words or Omar, the founder of Admob who despite having an obvious angle makes the innovation argument very well:
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.
I know I go on a lot about Apple’s closed strategy, but that is because it is a big deal. We need competition to promote innovation and we need developers and content owners to be able to reach as large as possible an audience with the minimum expense possible. Apple’s moves mitigate against both of these.
Meanwhile, in related news developing for the Apple ecosystem is getting more difficult and expensive, whilst at the same time Android is getting easier. That is the difference between Google who understands partnering and Apple who doesn’t.