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FTC approves Google merger with AdMob thanks to Apple competition

The Federal Trade Commission said Friday it has approved Google’s acquisition of AdMob, a mobile advertising platform, after a six-month review of the $750 million deal.

The search giant can thank Apple for the approval, as the agency cited the iPhone maker's entry into the mobile advertising market as evidence of competition in the industry.

In a statement, the FTC said it gave approval “after thoroughly reviewing the deal and concluding that it is unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks.” The agency said that combining Google’s mobile advertising network with competitor AdMob had “raised serious antitrust issues.”

But Apple’s launch of its own competing mobile ad network led investigators to determine Google’s merger wouldn’t harm competition. Last December, Apple acquired Quattro Wireless, which competes with AdMob. The Google rival also introduced last month iAd, its own platofrm for mobile advertising on its popular iPhone and iPad.

“In addition, a number of firms appear to be developing or acquiring smartphone platforms to better compete against Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, and these firms would have a strong incentive to facilitate competition among mobile advertising networks," the commission’s statement explained.

“As a result of Apple’s entry [into the market], AdMob’s success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob’s competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not,” the statement said.

By Cecilia Kang  |  May 21, 2010; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Antitrust , Apple , Google  
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Apple's has become so broad, that they even innovate for the competition.

Posted by: NYScientist | May 22, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

While it was fascinating to learn from the FTC that "AdMob’s revenue and market share are derived largely from the iPhone platform", it's difficult to see understand why the FTC seemed to be so preoccupied with Apple and its entry into the mobile ad market. Despite the hype, Apple was only 2.2 percent of global mobile-phone shipments and 14.4 percent of smartphones in 2009. For sure, Google is interested in the bigger picture: in mobile display, search and in-app advertising on 100 percent of smartphones and 100 percent of Internet-ready phones (which Apple doesn't seem to be) so AdMob is unlikely to remain focused on this niche Apple market. Yet the FTC statement didn't mention any other smartphone manufacturer including the market leaders or any other ad networks other than Quattro for that matter. Clearly in six months the FTC must have gained an unprecedented view of the mobile advertising market, so why didn't it share it with us? This would have proved an invaluable service, its clear from much of the media coverage over the last six months there's a) a lot of interest in this market and b) a huge knowledge gap.

Posted by: mobiThinking | May 28, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

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