Apple's Greedy Ad Grab

Apple's "iAd" program looks more sinister every day. It's not enough that Steve Jobs' company gets an exclusive cut of spending on iPhone mobile charges, apps, songs, movies and TV shows; now it wants the cream of mobile advertising, too.

Apple released new rules that would appear to kneecap Google's AdMob and other rivals to Apple's iAd system, used to broker ads inside iPhone and iPad apps. The company now insists iPhone and iPad apps may only share user-interaction data with Apple, meaning only Apple's iAds platform can know when users view and interact with embedded ads. Since Google's AdMob and other ad-broker systems apparently won't be able to tap into this data, their ads will be much less valuable.

Apple's new policy was initially noticed by Peter Kafka of All Things D; since then, it's become only too clear that the move will badly damage Apple's rivals. Apple has already rejected one app for using a widely-deployed analytics tool, Paul Boutin at VentureBeat reports, and Google's AdMob told Boutin it was indeed worried about Apple's new rules. Wired.com's Eliot Van Buskirk concluded that iAd rivals " will lose just about every advantage they currently possess over a paper flyer pasted to the side of a building."

Meanwhile Apple is maneuvering to grab the best ads within iPhone and iPad apps. After a visit from Apple reps, ad agency Hill Holiday said iAd will contain "premium... expensive" ads built on "high-quality creative." It also said Apple's ad-targeting system was "very impressive in its granularity" and that iAds could access the "compass... accelerometer [and] multitouch" information — the sort of "Device Data" that apps cannot share with ad platforms other than Apple's.

So fresh off an e-beating delivered to Adobe, Steve Jobs is socking his new nemesis Eric Schmidt over at Google where it hurts, in the hottest new ad market going. Let there be no question, then: Apple will punish its enemies as surely as it will tax its users and developers.