FTC Has Apple In Its Eye

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

A report out of Washington says that the Federal Trade Commission is planning to examine allegations that Apple Inc. is engaging in anti-competitive behavior in the mobile advertising sector.

Just recently, Apple announced that it plans to launch a proprietary ad format, the iAd, for its iPhone and iPad devices. (See DailyDOOH June 8, 2010, article.) The iAd program generates revenue from ads placed on Apple’s handheld devices.

U.S expenditure on mobile ads is expected to rise to close to $500 million this year from $220 million in 2009, according to IDC.

According to financial site Bloomberg.com, regulators want to know whether moves by Apple will result in less competition in the growing market for ads on handheld computers and phones.

The FTC had recently approved Google‘s $750 million acquisition of mobile ad firm AdMob, after delaying its decision due to concerns with conditions that Apple was placing on software developers and advertisers for the company’s iAd program.

Apple had at first released a set of terms that seemed to ban all third-party ad-serving networks, then altered the terms to reflect that independent third-party ad networks could be used by developers on the iPhone.

However, Apple said ad networks owned by a company that also sells mobile phones or mobile phone software, for example, Google and Nokia, are banned from the iPhone.

The FTC wants to investigate whether Apple is engaging in anti-competitive tactics to restrict rivals in the mobile-advertising market and or by prohibiting developers from using, for example, AdMob and Google’s advertising solutions on the iPhone.

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