Last week was a watershed moment in the history of catfights. First, the celeb world was rocked by news of a Madonna and Gwyneth breakup after 10 years of gal-pal bliss. Next, news of Katy Perry tweeting snarky comments about Lady Gaga polluted the blogs at warp speed. Yet none of these snits compares to the smack down happening between Apple and Google. This latest roll in the mud centers on Internet advertising and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is stepping in as referee.
This battle of web ads started a few months back when Google gobbled up AdMob, prompting Apple to scream “No fair!” The FTC was brought in that time, too, but found nada to back up the claim that Google would be the sole dictators of the mobile ad market. The FTC silenced the beef largely because Apple already has thrown its hat into the mobile marketing ring. And that is perhaps how the most current spitting contest erupted. The little monster created in the fury is none other than Apple’s originally-titled iAd.
The ad network will launch on July 1st; Apple has high hopes that the network will conquer almost half of the U.S. mobile Internet advertising market in the second half of the year. The existence of iAd is not really the big issue here. No, the flaming middle finger flung by Steve Jobs happened when he announced that Apple no longer would allow ads from Google to be featured on iPads and iPhones. Apple says they won’t be allowing any ad network owned by a company that also produces mobile phones or operating systems to collect data from ads on the applications for their hit mobile devices. Now the FTC is back in the middle of things and investigating Apple to decide whether or not this move is a fair one. Google, natch, says Apple is going out of its way to thwart competition and mobile advertisement developers. Apple is saying that it is within its rights and that the new restrictions do not violate anti-trust policies.
All of the corporate hair pulling is, in fact, bad news for independent marketers and small businesses. By companies saying boldly “you can’t market here,” a message is being sent that only the big guns survive. The battles are more signs of economic unrest in the tech world that now seems intent on creating bitchery to garner headlines. Moreover, we’re moving into the kind of ugly monopolizing behavior that dominated the telephone industry years ago. While this feud is likely to continue with bigger gestures and faster products, consumers and marketers will continue to be the injured parties.