Federal Regulators to Apple: We’re Not So Sure Your Terms Are Acceptable


Yesterday, we learned that the terms Apple set for the new iAd platform to be introduced with iOS4 were designed in such a way that many of Apple’s competitors – including Google – are excluded from eligibility. Specifically, the terms say that you cannot serve ads that would collect usage data unless you’re a third-party ad agency.


That would now exclude Google’s newly-acquired AdMob, among other potential servers such as Microsoft and RIM who – by chance – just happen to be some of Apple’s competitors on more fronts than one.

Federal regulators are wary of this being unfair, however, and they’re set to investigate whether or not Apple has the right to do such a thing. Whether or not they do remains to be seen, but at least Google’s being given a fair chance after the loopholes they had to get through to acquire AdMob in the first place.

[Financial Times via All Things D]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Yeah Apple are being unreasonable.

  2. Our Government is getting too intrusive

  3. This doesn’t make sense to me…

    “Specifically, the terms say that you cannot serve ads that would collect usage data unless you’re a third-party ad agency.”

    Isn’t Google a third-party ad agency? Hmm. That part to me is not clear. If all they’re doing is banning ads that collect usage data, I think that’s fair. If they said we’re blocking all ads from any ad party other than iAd that wouldn’t be fair.

  4. I think they might actually be wary of this being unfair.

    I’m surprised it happened that quickly, but this was actually my first thought when I read the story is that it would be a hard sell to regulators.

  5. @bill
    So are you going to take up the reigns and keep companies from abusing their power in ways that hurt consumers? No? Well who do you expect to do it then?

  6. apple is going to get a kicking here, ahihihihi

  7. Apple is and has been able to do what ever they want and that wont change. There “closed proprietary system” gives the ability to include exclude anything and everything. I think of Apple as the old East Germany, and again today China. If you love communism the go with the Fruit cause they are there own country with there own dictator and there own rules on how you can live your life.

    Next thing you know Apple will start tracking your every move with your Apple devices and send you a warning when your in an area that they deem not proper for there device and the way you live you life.

  8. @Derrick
    The article doesn’t do a good job of explaining what they mean. It should read, “independent third-party ad agency.” And by independent they mean a company not affiliated with software companies other than Apple. Section 3.3.9 specifically calls out software and device makers:

    The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an 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).

  9. Yeah… like we should let companies regulate themselves?? We all know how well that has worked out the past couple of years!! LOL

  10. Derrick, the terms in question specify that third-party ad agencies are only those whose sole business is serving ads. If the ad agency is owned by a company with other interests in the mobile market then they aren’t considered a third-party by Apple.

  11. @mrmojoz, IMHO, people who complain that government is too intrusive (or too big) usually have a commercial motive at the expense of what is good for everyone else. Taken to its extreme we could eliminate government and have anarchy.
    Fifteen years ago we needed protection from Microsoft.
    Right now we need protection from Apple. And from big telecom and ISP’s.
    Someday we might need protection from Google.

  12. @Dan and Paul,

    Thanks for the explanation. I was a bit confused also.

  13. It’s NOT the Third-Party aspect that is keeping AdMob specifically out of iOS – it is the verbage about another provider that is involved as a mobile advertiser as well:

    “For example, an 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.”

    It’s INDEPENDENT as ONLY a third-party ad provider and not part of a bigger operation.

  14. I almost find this funny, honestly Apple obviously doesn’t think their products are good enough to deal with ad compitition or what others may be putting out, thats the only reason they don’t want AdMod or any other company with other interests that may conflict with apple making money. This of course makes sense, but if they actually had a groud breaking device then none of this would matter since the product would speak for itself (much like the original iPhone when it first came out).

  15. Serves them right.
    I agree, w/o government we would still be at the mercy of Microsoft. Its Apples turn to chill the F out!

  16. Google shld re-direct all Apple related searches to Apple’s competitors’ websites. Type in “iPhone” get the Android website. Type in “Mac” get the Microsoft home page. I’d love to see that.

  17. It’s been pretty clear for a while now that Apple is afraid of competition. Rather than come up with better ideas, they just try to block everyone else. Their iOS4 is already behind recent Android phones. In fact, some of the “new features” were around when I had WM6. They try to keep HTC phones out of the US and now try to exclude these ad companies.

    Shady business…

  18. @DannyB

    Wow… Just wow…

    I know and have talked to many individuals who are for smaller and less intrusive government (including myself), and I can’t imagine what “commercial motive” they could all possibly have “at the expense of what is good for everyone else”

    And I don’t see how being for smaller government makes you an anarchist… If a person is overweight and decides they need to go on a diet to get back down to a normal weight, that doesn’t mean they are anorexic.

    I do agree with you that we need at least some government protection from corporations though. But I think the focus should be more on criminal aspects such as prosecuting fraud, etc rather than creating excessive regulations.

  19. If you don’t like apple don’t by your products. As far as big government, be careful. Reasonable regulation of companies are a good think. The problem with too large of government is when it starts trying to provide for the people instead of protect them. Then some other group starts determining how your money is spend and most often it is not spent on you.

  20. THE SHERMAN… I agree… all the moves lately are tell tale signs of circling the wagons to fend off competition, just like their Patent Lawsuit against HTC which will fail as well. Seeing the major FAIL with the iPhone4 unveiling, JOBS has no choice now to be reactionary seeing there is nothing revolutionary in all their latest products. Possibly territory unfamiliar to APPLE for quite some time. But hey, they went down this road before a long time ago, it worked well for them then too. Suffrage the fool who learns nothing of history and choses to repeat a mistake more than once! As for the Developers who stand to be controlled even more by this prohibitive requirement, I would only hope that the Android System presents a better opportunity and outlet for your wares… Apple needs to be humbles because it’s obvious right now JOBS is feeling Omnipotent!

  21. You know what’s funny? Steve Jobs’ presentation at WWDC set out how successful they have become, how many of Apple’s various mobile devices have been sold, how they’ve got the biggest share of the smartphone and mobile devices market in USA, how Android’s share is still small in comparison, how many apps are on the AppStore and how many had been downloaded, etc.

    His talk came complete with figures, pie charts ,etc. All these might just come back to bite Apple in the behind, if they help support the competition’s case that Apple have monopolistic power in the mobile device and apps industry and thus cannot be allowed to take these anti-competitive steps to lock mobile-ads competitors out of the largest market of mobile device and apps users in USA.

  22. Not sure I see the problem here…They aren’t allowing companies to collect your data? I’m not an Apple fan, but remember it’s not just Google who wants your data, it could be less than trustworthy companies too. If AdMob is able to supply ads without collecting data, I have no problem with that. Still sticking with Android though :)

  23. @Derrick

    after the 3rd party quote you posted, it goes on to say OR you are a developer of mobile OS’s…. etcetera

    so that “OR” includes google.

  24. @asqwerth – Good point there; nothing like a little foot in mouth syndrome. Especially when that mouth spews statments such as “magical” and “revolutionary” and “oh, and one more thing” with such smugness.
    Apple’s practices of exclusion and now Steve Jobs’ own presentation showcasing just how much market share and cultural penetration they have sure spells sinking ship to me.
    I don’t even want to get into their practice of patenting the most inane of features, something we all learn around the age of 2 like pointing, and threatening with lawsuits.
    The only end result I see though is that Apple is forced to set iTunes up as a seperate entity.

  25. the way I see it the only people affected by this are iPhone owners and those companies that want to advertise on the iOS platform. Just yet another way Apple is shooting themselves in the foot with stupidity. But I would say it was unfair in the sense that if Apple has a product they want to offer and Google or MS want to offer a similar product(not necessarily phone or tablet based)then they could have a monopoly on advertising for that market. But maybe eventually everyone will learn that dealing with Apple means strings attached to everything and if you just look funny to Mr. Jobs then you’re out.

  26. @Jeremy L
    It’s not that they aren’t allowing companies to collect your data… it’s that they are basically only allowing their iAd company (or onlt companie sthat they expressly approve of) to collect your data.

  27. In Europe Microsoft has been accused of charging customers for “bundled” software ie media player, internet explorer, CD burning software and so on. The accusation is that you can’t buy Windows products without there other products that are considered to be additional to the operating system.

    Apple have done just that on all their Macs but get away with it.

    Apple bundle you software you HAVE to use to make iPhones work, once you have the iPhone the explorer and the media player can’t be replaced.

    Considering Apple are meant to be bigger than MS why are they allowed to get away with much more unethical practices then MS?

    Monopoly laws are a great thing and companies need regulation otherwise undeniably Fascist companies like Apple would take the shirt off your back if they could get away with it.

  28. @Cpt.K
    It’s worse than that with the iPhone. They don’t just bundle certain apps with the iOS, they restrict third parties from even creating and selling apps that “duplicate functionality.” At least with Windows, it’s fairly easy to find and install a third-party browser or media player. As soon as European regulators recognize the iPhone as a computing device with a significant market share, I foresee a fairly quick ass-kicking.

    It may not be monopolistic in the sense that they’re the only smartphone on the market, but it’s certainly anticompetitive, as is singling out certain kinds of ad companies, especially when Apple is selling mobile ads directly.

  29. I used Netscape 4 until Mozilla was finally usable. Later on I moved to Firefox but there was no way I would use IE…I feel that people should search for alternatives to all their bundled apps.

  30. @bill you’re right our government is getting too intrusive but this is the kind of thing they should be looking into due to being anti-competitive.

  31. I disagree with Apple’s apparent motivations in a lot of areas, but the government getting involved would completely stifle innovation in an arena that is innovating nicely. Android is much more open and already popular. Let the market decide who is going to win here.

  32. Apple stance on iAd is antitrust, we’ll wait and see how FTC will handle this.

  33. Just submitted my review in of Opera Mini 5 beta for the competition.
    Author: whinelikeaturbine
    Title: The speed of this browser will ultimately triumph! Check it out and please THUMBS UP ya’ll!: )

  34. Too many people blast Apple for their “closed” policy regarding their hardware/software. No, I’m not an “Apple Fanboy”. I’ve been running Linux since Redhat 3 and Linux is my everyday OS.

    People always put down success in light of their own insecurities. It’s the most common excuse/rationalization for general failure and lack of motivation to achieve anything of relative significance on their own.

    Apple’s success in gaining market share is directly tied to their reliability and in building superior hardware. Except for the iPhone, as I feel their are numerous Android based phones that are superior hardware – with even better ones coming out consistently. Compare any Dell, HP or other mass computer manufacturer’s laptops to a MacBook Pro. Most are pure plastic and built for the sole purpose of selling them cheap and thus making them disposable. They are subsidized with bloatware and “free trials” that are near impossible to fully remove from Winblows. I haven’t owned a Microsoft based product in over 12 years, and in that same period I haven’t had a single virus nor have I had a single hardware failure outside of my own neglect (Tip: Dont leave your MacBook Pro in the car overnight when it’s 2 degrees outside. When you bring it inside where it’s 68+ ~ internal condensation will fry everything).

    So far as the government stepping in: I am not a fan of Big Government whatsoever. Politicians are elected continuously on the premise that they are out to protect the little guy – when in reality [most] are megalomaniacal narcissists who fatten their pockets and their egos on YOUR dime. There has quickly grown (insanely so in the past decade) a very small group of those with power/opportunity and the rest of the United States. Any of you who want the government to subsidize your lives in any way are only asking for the death sentence of the very freedoms you take for granted.

    If Apple wants to make THEIR PRODUCT where THEIR competitors can’t utilize it to compete against them – That is the very foundation of an open and competitive market. By the same logic: Windows should be free. Toyota should be able to paint “Toyota” on the side of every new Chevrolet. Pick any industry other than tech/OS and apply the logic. It’s inane.

    Keep the government out. Let competition dictate success. And let people decide who the winners are with their pocketbooks. Your money dictates what direction these companies go in.

    And anyone who thinks Google isn’t the current “Big Brother” of the world, is sadly naive. Think about it: They know nearly everything. What you search for. What you buy. Where you.

    But let Google throw you a bone with an “open” OS for phones and you drink the Kool-Aid.

    Caveat: I’m switching to an Android based phone from an iPhone because I feel current offerings from Android (OS and hardware) are superior.

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