Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tech giants struggle with the rules of the game: Google goes after Apple over what it sees as 'artificial barriers'

Imagine one newspaper publisher criticizing another crosstown publisher because their column widths are different and therefore require advertisers to create whole new ads if they are going to advertise in both papers.

That is essentially AdMob's complaint about Apple's development rules for the iPhone and iPad. According to AdMob Chief Executive Omar Hamoui, "Apple proposed new developer terms on Monday that, if enforced as written, would prohibit app developers from using AdMob and Google’s advertising solutions on the iPhone."

AdMob's website shows new ads that it claims complies with the new iPhone OS SDK. →

Writing on the AdMob blog, Hamoui seemed continued: "Let’s be clear. This change is not in the best interests of users or developers. In the history of technology and innovation, it’s clear that competition delivers the best outcome. Artificial barriers to competition hurt users and developers and, in the long run, stall technological progress."

Cry me a river. Competing media companies put up "artificial barriers" all the time -- it's called competition. But as you can see from this screenshot of AdMob's own website, it doesn't appear to to that much of a barrier.

What the head of AdMob, now owned by Google, is really complaining about is that Apple itself is, like Google, now a media company. Because of this, AdMob which has benefited from the growth of mobile media advertising -- especially on the iPhone -- suddenly finds that they are not a "partner" anymore but a competitor.

Yes, the rules have changed. At any time during the day it is possible that a rep from Google will be calling on the same agency as a rep from Apple. If you expect everyone to play nice in the sandbox you are really naive.

Welcome to the world of media ad sales. It's not always pretty.