I’ve had more time to digest some of the possibilities for Apple’s $275 million acquisition of mobile ad network Quattro.
As discussed, it follows closely behind Google’s AdMob acquisition and both will be harbingers of more M&A activity in the mobile space. This will be driven by the need for media companies to better monetize the growing volumes of ad inventory on their products or networks.
It is also important for companies like Google and Apple to start to build and broaden ad formats and distribution. This is meant to appeal to mobile advertisers and publishers at early stages of what will be a $3.1 billion industry by 2013 (BIA/Kelsey forecast).
That much is clear and has been discussed. A few other angles have come up through some thought and a great piece last night from Erick Schonfeld over at TechCrunch. It’s an admittedly sexier angle that focuses more on Apple vs. Google.
- First, Apple’s announcement happened within hours of Google’s big Nexus One launch…that much we already know.
- Last year, Eric Schmidt left his seat on the Apple board after a steady build up of competitive friction between the two companies… that much we already know
- Rumors abound that months ago, Apple put in a bid for Quattro competitor AdMob. Google ended up with the company for $750 million… that much we already know.
Looking at it from the Google vs. Apple lens, Monday’s dueling announcements were the latest culmination of this festering rivalry, as they step into each other’s territories.
Google is entering Apple’s territory by building and selling vertically integrated hardware and software under one roof (sound familiar). Apple is meanwhile building a monetizable publisher network — a la AdSense — within the App Store walled garden.
Another way to look at the acquisition from Apple’s perspective is to prevent ceding control of iPhone app monetization to its quickly developing nemesis. This is simply because AdMob holds the top spot for ad placement within iPhone apps. Touché.
So the question now is what will Apple do with Quattro? One answer is utilize the App Store’s closed environment to make Quattro the preferred ad network for developers. This means Quattro monetization tools integrate with the iPhone SDK or registration.
To take it another step, the above would likely fuel the ongoing media storm about Apple’s questionable app approval methodology. In other words, Apple will be called into question for approving or denying apps based on ad network involvement.
Not saying Apple will do this, as it skirts with DOJ scrutiny — one road it doesn’t want to follow Google down. But get ready to hear about it. This and lots more should unfold once these deals are approved and integrated.