Antitrust regulators are planning to launch an investigation of Apple’s iAd, its new mobile advertising format. Apple unveiled new terms this week that would seem to exclude some other companies from serving up ads inside iPhone apps, and the federal government is concerned that Apple might be unfairly hogging the market.
Apple has yet to give a formal response. But Marketplace reporter Jeff Horwich explains iAd presentations display a classic Apple argument: Channeling people to Apple’s own, proprietary system is actually better for consumers — it lets Apple do cool things other companies can’t do.
Last April, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained the move towards Apple’s proprietary mobile advertising: “What some of the developers are starting to do is to put advertising into their apps. We think most of this mobile advertising really sucks, and we thought we might be able to make some contributions.”
Clicking an iAd link, for example, won’t force you to leave the app you’re using, which is one of a few major concerns of iPhone users and advertisers.
Google is also concerned with the new format. Omar Hamoui, chief of Google’s mobile ad company AdMob, posted a blog saying Apple’s new rules are anticompetitive and hurts developers and consumers. “We’ll be speaking to Apple to express our concerns about the impact of these terms,” Hamoui said. Google is already selling iPhone ads, and the new rules suggest they’d have to stop.
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