Tensions are growing between Google and Apple over the latter’s strict policies regarding third party analytics with Google claiming that it unfairly shuts them out of iPhone and iPad advertising in favor of Apple’s iAd platform. As part of the announced update to its coveted operating system and launch of its iAd platform, Apple has revised its terms to prevent accumulation of data from third-party advertising agencies to protect its interests and its users’ privacy, according to Steve Jobs. Apalled by the revisions, Google-owned AdMob is calling the behavior anti-competitive and anti-consumer.
During the recently held D8 conference, Steve Jobs partially attributed the changes in Apple’s policies to user privacy issues and the risk of information leak that has previously plagued the technology giant. The app-analytics firm Flurry was outed for almost slipping the news about the iPad two days prior to its official announcement. Not all is gloomy, however, since developers will be allowed to collect some analytics on their own as needed.
AdMob’s spokesperson Nicole Leverich is weary of Apple’s revisions, advocating against them because a lack of access to device data will curtail AdMob’s ability to serve relevant ads and thus harming returns for advertisers. The following is an excerpt from Apple’s revisions:
Device Data may not be provided or disclosed to a third party without Apple’s prior written consent. Accordingly, the use of third party software in Your Application to collect and send Device Data to a third party for processing or analysis is expressly prohibited.
The reality is, however, that Steve Jobs does NOT want to shut out third party ad networks from the iPhone and iPad, as he aptly stated at the D8 conference. Instead the idea is to lock out third-party analytics firms and inconscpiously take aim at AdMob. The latest amendment specifically includes a bit of legalese that targets Google, although not by name. The legalese states that “independent ad firms” may collect data and not any ad service provider that’s linked to or owned by a mobile device distributor other than Apple.
It’s understandable why Google isn’t happy. AdMob has helped tens of thousands of developers make a lot of money over the years and expresses concern over the new terms. How will Apple’s resorting to such tactics reflect on its stellar brand? The days of competing by simply creating better products may be behind us as Apple fights to stay ahead by any means at its disposal. With US regulators looking into the matter, could we expect antitrust scrutiny? Stay tuned.