Google 5 : 0 Apple

Google has been given the green light to complete its purchase of AdMob by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), after the regulator concluded that the deal is unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile ad networks. The Commission vote to close the investigation was 5-0 in favour of approving the deal.

In an ironic twist, the FTC said that although the combination of what it described as: “the two leading mobile advertising networks” raised serious antitrust issues, its concerns were ultimately overshadowed by recent developments, most notably Apple’s move to launch its own, competing mobile ad network.

“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 Commission said.

The FTC said that the evidence it had gathered raised “important questions” about the transaction, but added that its concerns were outweighed by recent evidence that Apple is poised to become a strong competitor in the mobile advertising market, following its recent acquisition of Quattro Wireless and the launch its own iAd service. The FTC also referred to Apple’s “close relationships with application developers and users; its access to a large amount of proprietary user data; and its ownership of iPhone software development tools and control over the iPhone developers’ license agreement.”

In a blog post tonight, AdMob founder and CEO Omar Hamoui says: “We are extremely pleased with the FTC’s decision today to clear Google’s acquisition of AdMob. Over the past six months, we’ve received a great deal of support from across the mobile industry, and we deeply appreciate it.

“We are excited to get to what’s next and to start working with Google to develop new products and services for our advertisers, developers, and publishers. We share a commitment to helping our customers navigate and take advantage of the mobile opportunity. Together, Google and AdMob will be able to bring a whole host of new products and capabilities to mobile advertising.”

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