Antitrust probe looms for Apple's iAd platform

The Financial Times reports that US antitrust regulators have decided to investigate whether or not Apple is restricting rivals from their new iAd system in an unfair way.

Apple has begun implmenting its own ad network, dubbed "iAd", that will display and interact with a user without having them leave the application they are using. Before iAd was created, touching an advertisement would close the application and then display its contents in the Safari browser. During the WWDC keynote on Monday, Apple claimed it had sold over $60 million worth of advertisements that will begin in July.

Apples latest policies for developers who make applications for the iOS4 platfort limit which information developers can send about their apps’ audiences to advertisers. This information cannot be sent to any advertising networks that are also developing or releasing mobile devices or operating systems. This basically locks out rivals, including Google and Microsoft, from participating on the platform.

Earlier this week, Google claimed its “market-leading” AdMob advertising system was going to be unfairly excluded from Apple’s devices. This dispute comes after US antitrust authorities investigated Google for possibly having too much influence in the mobile ad market. People close to this dispute say US regulators have already begun investigating Apple’s actions; however it is unclear if the FTC or Department of Justice will take the investigation forward.

Google’s AdMob chief stated, “This change threatens to decrease, or even eliminate, revenue that helps to support tens of thousands of developers. “The terms hurt both large and small developers by severely limiting their choice of how best to make money. And because advertising funds a huge number of free and low-cost apps, these terms are bad for consumers as well.

Regulators have also been looking into Apples marketing of digital music, as well as the blocking of Flash content on their mobile platforms.

When questioned whether or not Apples actions form the basis of an antitrust case, William Comaner, a former Federal Trade Commission chief economist said, “It has to affect consumers, not just rival suppliers”. Comaner later stated he was unsure if Apple is breaking the law.

In the quest for companies to remain profitable in the mobile phone market, it seems ads may now be a hot topic for competitors, and issues such as these may ultimately be decided in the courts.

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If for any reason I am forced, tricked, or otherwise to view any advertisement that may or may not cause me to exceed my data plan limits is cause for an Class Action Suit and that Regulatory law changes are required that allow "owners" of any phone to not view, be tricked into, or otherwise view any advertisement of any kind!!

SpyCatcher said,
If for any reason I am forced, tricked, or otherwise to view any advertisement that may or may not cause me to exceed my data plan limits is cause for an Class Action Suit and that Regulatory law changes are required that allow "owners" of any phone to not view, be tricked into, or otherwise view any advertisement of any kind!!

Dont install the App?

I'm fed up of the whiners complaining about advertising taking them over their data-plan or costing them money. Here is a thought; dont install the app? You know the person or persons that wrote the app have to you know ... eat and do other such necessary things. If you don't agree with the advertising stop using the app and move along.

I find funny people saying "Its THEIR platform and THEY decide what to use".
If Apple was selling houses and they decided that you can only have black, white and metalic colors, that you can't have a pc because it's compete with mac, that you also can't bring your Sony LCD because Sony is also making PC that compete with mac.... and it's only the tip of the iceberg. Will you say that control is normal? I think no and I hope you too think that.

Now after that great comparison, why an antitrust:
-Exluding themselves, Apple prevent any company non-independant ( Admob is dependant from Googe so... ) from collecting information resulting from ads.
-Google is allowed to display ads on iOS platform but they can't display ads you could like because they aren't allowed to know what ads you are clicking on or what apps using Admob you are using. -Google was never allowed to collect your friend contacts, or any other thing because there is law for privacy.

-If you are an advertiser you won't want to use iAd if you are advertising on many platforms because you'll have to get multiple accounts and possibly paying at a higher cost because instead of paying for one big volume of ads you'll have to pay for two smallers volumes of ads.
-But also you don't want Google to display your ads on iPad and iPhone because they can't display to target audience because they aren't allowed to collect informations to detect what the iPhone users like. Only Apple and independants ads firms can.
-If you are a developper it's the samething if you having a website and applications on others OS, there is a great chance that you'll make less money or having less from what you paid.

-Preventing competitors like Google to be efficient on iOS is why there is an antitrust investigation.
-Almost no one except Google could compete with iAd so "independants" is pretty much a joke.
-It's sure that Google want to defend his ability to do business, anybody would do it,
-but they are also right saying customers, advertisers and developpers will lose with new Apple terms.
-Remember the many investigations against Apple are not because there is actually a monopoly, it's because in the capitalist system, there is laws to force companies to stay competitive and not prevent competition. And expectations are that the smartphone/tablet market will explode and Apple will be one of the primary players. Many big compagnies are having antitrust case like Microsoft and RAM makers.

Nelsoon said,
I find funny people saying "Its THEIR platform and THEY decide what to use".
If Apple was selling houses and they decided that you can only have black, white and metalic colors, that you can't have a pc because it's compete with mac, that you also can't bring your Sony LCD because Sony is also making PC that compete with mac.... and it's only the tip of the iceberg. Will you say that control is normal? I think no and I hope you too think that.

Then you go to another real estate agency.

Apple is not a monopoly on mobile devices nor are they even close to a monopoly on advertising.


MS was hit with anti-trust law cases because they WERE a monopoly in the PC market, and still are.


I don't see what is so hard to understand here.

And if Apple is hit by an antitrust case it will not because they are preventing competition with their share of the market but because they prevent competitors to be competitive on their device ( it's an ads market not mobile phone. There are compagnies that could not do that too despite they are not selling mobile phone )

Binary said,

Then you go to another real estate agency.

Apple is not a monopoly on mobile devices nor are they even close to a monopoly on advertising.


MS was hit with anti-trust law cases because they WERE a monopoly in the PC market, and still are.


I don't see what is so hard to understand here.

I would be careful about that presumption at the moment. Lets not forget google was almost only allowed to purchase admob because of iAd. If that's not a big enough statement from the FTC? to say "iAd will be able to stop google having a monopoly" but for Apple to turn around and potentially create its own monopoly through restrictive practices I think the FTC will be a bit ****ed.

So Apple, as a store owner, isn't allowed to say what can run on their platform? How is this different from Barnes & Noble deciding what books can be sold in their stores? There's no difference and nothing will come of this inquiry. Apple neither has a monopoly on apps or ads. There's plenty of competition across the apps and ad space. There doesn't have to be competition within Apple's own store from a rival company.

asdavis10 said,
So Apple, as a store owner, isn't allowed to say what can run on their platform? How is this different from Barnes & Noble deciding what books can be sold in their stores? There's no difference and nothing will come of this inquiry. Apple neither has a monopoly on apps or ads. There's plenty of competition across the apps and ad space. There doesn't have to be competition within Apple's own store from a rival company.

This is a silly comment. It's like comparing apples to oranges (A company owning an OS and Ad Network that is restricting competition, and a retailer that orders product and stocks their shelves). I actually see NO connection between the two. I don't think you really understand the two business models, as they are very different. By restricting competition on a platform, Apple is creating an anti-competitive environment. Simple as that. And it has nothing to do with the app store so much as iAd...

asdavis10 said,
So Apple, as a store owner, isn't allowed to say what can run on their platform? How is this different from Barnes & Noble deciding what books can be sold in their stores? There's no difference and nothing will come of this inquiry. Apple neither has a monopoly on apps or ads. There's plenty of competition across the apps and ad space. There doesn't have to be competition within Apple's own store from a rival company.

Best way to think about it using that analogy would be that barns an noble would dictate what companies, if any, the book publishers could use to place adverts in their books (I know books dont come with adverts printed in).

You are, however, almost right on the original point about the book store selecting which books can be sold. This is more analogous to Apple currently removing 'unwanted' IE adult aps from the store

MS and/or google should develop a better phone and OS then basically give the phone away (loose a little money) to all carriers. Make some money back from service providers and app development. That would crush apple. You can't follow a leader or you will always be one step behind. Take a little risk see what happens. They are both moving lots of apps to the cloud maybe go that way with the phone. The KIN I think already stores photos taken from the phone in the cloud maybe move that way with app development as wells. It could be much faster deployment HTML5! Come on MS and Google take a leadership role now I love competition it makes for great products!

Matrixsig said,
MS and/or google should develop a better phone and OS then basically give the phone away (loose a little money) to all carriers. Make some money back from service providers and app development. That would crush apple. You can't follow a leader or you will always be one step behind. Take a little risk see what happens. They are both moving lots of apps to the cloud maybe go that way with the phone. The KIN I think already stores photos taken from the phone in the cloud maybe move that way with app development as wells. It could be much faster deployment HTML5! Come on MS and Google take a leadership role now I love competition it makes for great products!

There's a lot you wouldn't be able to do doing it that way. That's why they all have app marketplaces... And Microsoft and Google do both have mobile OS's (With Microsoft completely starting from scratch with their new one). So it sounds like they're already focusing on that a bit.

I agree with mokthraka. I learned a lot in college when I wrote a paper on the MS anti-trust case. There is a lot at play here and main issue is choice. A developer should have the choice of who they want to use for advertising when they create a applicatioon. It shouldn't matter what platform it is for.

weisshole said,
I agree with mokthraka. I learned a lot in college when I wrote a paper on the MS anti-trust case. There is a lot at play here and main issue is choice. A developer should have the choice of who they want to use for advertising when they create a applicatioon. It shouldn't matter what platform it is for.

They have a choice... Steve Jobs said himself they are not stopping 3rd party adverts being used in applications... So can someone enlighten me as to what the problem is here?

ccuk said,

They have a choice... Steve Jobs said himself they are not stopping 3rd party adverts being used in applications... So can someone enlighten me as to what the problem is here?


You are incorrect on that. They can opt not to use iAd if the developer's company is displaying their own ads AFAIK. So Google can display Google ads, CBS can display Ads using their own CBS Ads system, but CBS can't display ads using Google Ads software.

cybertimber2008 said,

You are incorrect on that. They can opt not to use iAd if the developer's company is displaying their own ads AFAIK. So Google can display Google ads, CBS can display Ads using their own CBS Ads system, but CBS can't display ads using Google Ads software.

Exactly. I don't understand how so many people seem to be missing this...

“It has to affect consumers, not just rival suppliers”.

Are the developers not consumers of the development platform? They have to pay, just like a consumer, to develop for the platform, and get their work on the platform. They are consumers too!

As a second point... most of these companies already use Google advertising on their websites. Before iOS 4, they had the choice to use that service on their apps, and across platforms (PC/MAC, iPhone, Android, Blackberry). Now they can't use it on the iPhone, and they are required to pay apple.

You know what, I can't wait for someone to figure out how to block the domain where the iAds come from.

mokthraka said,
People really should learn about trusts and monopolys before they say they don't see what the big deal is

Indeed. I was thinking the same thing.

I don't get people saying it's their platform they can do what they want, iad would be the start of an monoply the laws are in place to protect us as consumers.

The ms browser thing was a bit differant as it didn't lock you out from making a choice you could still install a 3rd party browser.

Some of you may be thinking, "Hey, it's their platform. They should do as they please." But think of it this way: What if Microsoft decided to block the use of third-party web browsers in their Windows operating systems? Would that be fair to Mozilla, Opera, etc.? That would obliterate the market competition for web browsers. In the case of Apple, their ad platform would severely hinder (or even eliminate) any sort of competition from companies like Google and Microsoft. It's simply unfair from a business standpoint.

There's a reason why most countries have laws that promote (and maintain) market competition. And Apple, just like any other company, is subject to such laws. If Apple thinks that they can get away with such anti-competitive behaviour, they better think twice about their new ad platform.

Anaron said,
Some of you may be thinking, "Hey, it's their platform. They should do as they please." But think of it this way: What if Microsoft decided to block the use of third-party web browsers in their Windows operating systems? Would that be fair to Mozilla, Opera, etc.? That would obliterate the market competition for web browsers. In the case of Apple, their ad platform would severely hinder (or even eliminate) any sort of competition from companies like Google and Microsoft. It's simply unfair from a business standpoint.

There's a reason why most countries have laws that promote (and maintain) market competition. And Apple, just like any other company, is subject to such laws. If Apple thinks that they can get away with such anti-competitive behaviour, they better think twice about their new ad platform.

Maybe I am missing something, but they aren't blocking 3rd party advertising on the platform. Merely restricting the information that can be utilized to do so. Not sure what the issue really is here...

ccuk said,

Maybe I am missing something, but they aren't blocking 3rd party advertising on the platform. Merely restricting the information that can be utilized to do so. Not sure what the issue really is here...

You are missing something, as they specifically worded their terms so that large advertisers (With the exception of Apple of course) cannot advertise on the platform. Herein lies the issue...

I've been saying the same thing over and over about Windows for the past decade. I don't want crappy Safari, Firefox or Opera on my Microsoft Windows OS.

I mean come on, does Apple ship any other browsers with OS X other than Safari?

I see what you did there.

Neobond said,
I've been saying the same thing over and over about Windows for the past decade. I don't want crappy Safari, Firefox or Opera on my Microsoft Windows OS.
Don't forget to be rid of iTunes and QuickTime whilst you're at it! Microsoft already provides Windows Media Player so these pieces of software are completely unnecessary and should be restricted from computers running Microsoft Windows too.

Neobond said,
I've been saying the same thing over and over about Windows for the past decade. I don't want crappy Safari, Firefox or Opera on my Microsoft Windows OS.

I mean come on, does Apple ship any other browsers with OS X other than Safari?

I see what you did there. lol And in many cases I'm fine with Microsoft's solutions (Though not IE)... I think the issue is in the barring of alternatives from being run. Apple took it a step farther than Microsoft ever did. And I hope the repercussions are severe.

Neobond said,
I've been saying the same thing over and over about Windows for the past decade. I don't want crappy Safari, Firefox or Opera on my Microsoft Windows OS.

I mean come on, does Apple ship any other browsers with OS X other than Safari?

Sarcasm aside I would not stop MS from doing it.. ( clearly they won't, it contradicts their marketing of being an easy OS to develop for and where people get choices ).

It IS their platform, and they should be able to control it if they want too. I keep using this example, but it fits. Car Companies.. Where's the Anti-Trust because you can't get Onstar in Ford.. Or a Hemmi Engine in a BMW ?

hah I love how google plays the "oh its going to hurt the developers the poor poor developers.... and our deep pockets -looks at bank account numbers" it's nothing about the developers its all about google wanting more money. It's how business works

Edrick Smith said,
hah I love how google plays the "oh its going to hurt the developers the poor poor developers.... and our deep pockets -looks at bank account numbers" it's nothing about the developers its all about google wanting more money. It's how business works


Its not just Google that is having issues with Apple as of late. And its not about money.

techbeck said,


Its not just Google that is having issues with Apple as of late. And its not about money.

Actually it's pretty much about money. Google is king when it comes to internet advertising and with a new guy encroaching on there territory there afraid of lost ad revenue.

Adamb10 said,

Actually it's pretty much about money. Google is king when it comes to internet advertising and with a new guy encroaching on there territory there afraid of lost ad revenue.

Well it's when this new guy controls a very lucrative advertising platform and deliberately blocks Google and many other advertising companies from making money from it. Of course it is about the money, it's a business like any other.

Minimoose said,

Well it's when this new guy controls a very lucrative advertising platform and deliberately blocks Google and many other advertising companies from making money from it. Of course it is about the money, it's a business like any other.


+1

Minimoose said,

Well it's when this new guy controls a very lucrative advertising platform and deliberately blocks Google and many other advertising companies from making money from it. Of course it is about the money, it's a business like any other.

+1

This article reminded me of this quote...."I concluded the worst thing that could happen is if we change our core values and let it slide. I can't do that. I'd rather quit.", I hope someone at the DOJ recites that to Steve Jobs.

I am pretty sure Apple has something under their sleeves to get out of this one. They wouldn't make decisions to block out their competitors without forethought.

Jebadiah said,
I am pretty sure Apple has something under their sleeves to get out of this one. They wouldn't make decisions to block out their competitors without forethought.

Why? Because every other decision they have made recently has been clear of thought and rationality? They are getting power hungry...plain and simple. MS had the same issue.

techbeck said,

Why? Because every other decision they have made recently has been clear of thought and rationality? They are getting power hungry...plain and simple. MS had the same issue.

They are getting power hungry. So what? What corporation isn't? You want corporations to be nice to everyone? Ha! What matters here is not rationality or clear conscience. What matters is how they act under existing law. And I highly doubt they would make decisions like these without finding out loopholes in the law that would be going for them. So quit whining, sit back, and watch the action.

Jebadiah said,
I am pretty sure Apple has something under their sleeves to get out of this one. They wouldn't make decisions to block out their competitors without forethought.

I have to disagree with this statement. Apple is a very arrogant company. They probably made this decision thinking them immune to this sort of retaliation...

I don't see where there's an anti-trust issue. Maybe I don't understand how it all works, but it seems to me like Apple should have complete control over what is distributed through its network, from its store and to its devices. If you want to contribute and have your app sold by Apple, then you have to play by the rules. Google either broke a rule or doesn't agree with them, so they're left out. Boo-hoo. So now the only logical thing to do is complain to the courts that it's unfair of Apple to utilize its own ad revenue system since Google's "been there first".

For crying out loud, it's just a ****ing phone.

bjoswald said,
I don't see where there's an anti-trust issue. Maybe I don't understand how it all works, but it seems to me like Apple should have complete control over what is distributed through its network, from its store and to its devices. If you want to contribute and have your app sold by Apple, then you have to play by the rules. Google either broke a rule or doesn't agree with them, so they're left out. Boo-hoo. So now the only logical thing to do is complain to the courts that it's unfair of Apple to utilize its own ad revenue system since Google's "been there first".

For crying out loud, it's just a ****ing phone.


What if Microsoft decided to ban iTunes from Windows to promote Zune?

bjoswald said,
For crying out loud, it's just a ****ing phone.

And Windows is just a ****ing OS. See how that works? You engage in anti-competitive business practices, you get investigated and eventually nailed for it. I hope Apple gets reamed.

day2die said,

What if Microsoft decided to ban iTunes from Windows to promote Zune?
Then most people on here would be calling for blood.

day2die said,

What if Microsoft decided to ban iTunes from Windows to promote Zune?

What if Microsoft didn't allow iTunes to be on the Xbox 360 to promote Zune?

Oh wait!

You can't be biased like that and at the same time be the better person.

You must understand the value of the market here. It is not your decision to make it worh it or not. The market is important to many, and ads play a big part in it. Just because you think it's nothing but a damn phone doesn't mean case closed. This ia big market, doesn't matter how irritated you are. Look at it both ways, it's not that Google was first or it's Apple's device. It would be antitrust if this Jesus phone is locked down and everybody gets it and all the other ad platforms cannot join in and the economy begins to fall because one company is earning it all and the others lose everything.

As much as you like to see this as nothing, it is a damn big market. They aren't just phones anymore, not even smartphones, more like mobile network processing device. They deliver so much information to us and keep us connected to our social network, it really isn't just a phone anymore. So much money is poured into this market and you have to do your homework and understand it even if you are one of the guys who carries a flip-phone just for calling people. Big market means something.

Stetson said,

What if Microsoft didn't allow iTunes to be on the Xbox 360 to promote Zune?

Oh wait!

Has apple tried to put itunes onthe xbox?

[quote=day2die said,]
What if Microsoft decided to ban iTunes from Windows to promote Zune?[/quote

....in all honesty? People would be pretty happy that such a substandard piece of software is finally gone.

bjoswald said,
I don't see where there's an anti-trust issue. Maybe I don't understand how it all works, but it seems to me like Apple should have complete control over what is distributed through its network, from its store and to its devices. If you want to contribute and have your app sold by Apple, then you have to play by the rules. Google either broke a rule or doesn't agree with them, so they're left out. Boo-hoo. So now the only logical thing to do is complain to the courts that it's unfair of Apple to utilize its own ad revenue system since Google's "been there first".

For crying out loud, it's just a ****ing phone.

Some people really will defend anything that Apple do. If you cannot see what is wrong with aggressively going on a road that completely shuts all your competitors out then you have no place debating this issue.

Beaux said,
Has apple tried to put itunes onthe xbox?

How would they? The only way they could possibly get it onto the xbox would be to form some sort of partner deal with Microsoft, and there's no way that Microsoft would ever do that since it competes with their Zune store.

Stetson said,

How would they? The only way they could possibly get it onto the xbox would be to form some sort of partner deal with Microsoft, and there's no way that Microsoft would ever do that since it competes with their Zune store.
It hasn't been Microsoft blocking iTunes on the Xbox...

http://news.cnet.com/Xbox-360-...3-5931847.html?tag=nefd.pop
Henshaw said Microsoft tried to "engage" Apple in a partnership that would have officially made the iPod interoperable with Xbox, but Apple rejected the overture.

Monkeys4me said,
It hasn't been Microsoft blocking iTunes on the Xbox...

http://news.cnet.com/Xbox-360-...3-5931847.html?tag=nefd.pop
Henshaw said Microsoft tried to "engage" Apple in a partnership that would have officially made the iPod interoperable with Xbox, but Apple rejected the overture.

+1. Though most likely Apple wouldn't agree because they didn't figure there was any chance of iTunes getting onto the Xbox (MS probably wanted compatibility without the iTunes software).

bjoswald said,
I don't see where there's an anti-trust issue. Maybe I don't understand how it all works, but it seems to me like Apple should have complete control over what is distributed through its network, from its store and to its devices. If you want to contribute and have your app sold by Apple, then you have to play by the rules. Google either broke a rule or doesn't agree with them, so they're left out. Boo-hoo. So now the only logical thing to do is complain to the courts that it's unfair of Apple to utilize its own ad revenue system since Google's "been there first".

For crying out loud, it's just a ****ing phone.

If for any reason I am forced, tricked, or otherwise to view an advertisement that may or may not cause me to exceed my data plan limits is cause for an Class Action Suit and required changes that allow "owners" of any phone to not view, be tricked into, or otherwise view any advertisement of any kind!!

Beaux said,
Has apple tried to put itunes onthe xbox?

That would be a "No"... LOL Making the original comment silly.

And as for Apple, I hope they get it for this one. The wording is appalling. The wording, with the exception of a specific exception for themselves, would have banned Apple from distributing ads on the network. THAT exception is the most blatant anti-competitive behavior I've seen in a VERY long time.