When Apple announced its iAd mobile advertising initiative, many of us wondered how this would effect other mobile advertising agencies on the iPhone, and more specifically, Google's AdMob. Well, now we know: Apple has revised its iOS developer agreement to specifically lock out Google's AdMod. And then people wonder why Apple is no longer the darling of the geek world.
When iAd was launched, the iPhone OS 4 developer agreement was amended to prohibit application developers from employing analytics within their applications. This move would effectively lock out any competitor to Apple's own iAd, since without analytics, advertising is pointless. It turned out, however, that this change was made only to block third party analytics firms like Flurry - not ad agencies.
Apple has amended its developer agreement yet again to better reflect this goal of blocking these analytics firms; third-party advertising agencies are now allowed to collect data for the purpose of targeted advertising. However, there's an additional bit of legalese in there written specifically to block Google - even if Google is mentioned by name.
The legalese states that only "independent" ad firms may collect data, clarifying that "any advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent".
So yeah, this is clear as day. It seems like to me that Google is not going to be particularly happy about this one. The iPhone makes up a pretty large share of mobile internet traffic (half?), so this is a big market when it comes to mobile advertising.
I guess honest competition is below Steve Jobs these days. HTC making too much progress? Sue them. Android growing too fast? Sue it indirectly within the HTC suit. Want to enter a new market where someone else is already really successful? Use legalese to knock them out cold - happy AdMob-using developers be damned. Het doel heiligt de middelen.
I remember a time when Apple used to compete by building better products, distinctive products. The PowerMac G4 Cube - one of the most beautiful computers ever built. The iMac G4, my first Mac - an absolute tour de force of design, a real head turner, and to this day nothing like it has ever been built. The iBook G4 12", so far ahead of anything else the competition had to offer that I almost started to pity the likes of Dell and HP. The original iPhone, which revolutionised the market by simply being a better product.
Now that Apple has become a force to be reckoned with, they are resorting to tactics that would make '90s Bill Gates blush. I'm eagerly awaiting how the John Grubers of this world are going to spin this one.