If you want to develop apps for the iPhone or iPad, your apps can't deliver ads through any service affiliated with a company that makes mobile devices or platforms -- unless that company happens to be Apple.
That appears to be the gist of new rules devised by Apple for mobile app developers, as reported by All Things Digital. The move could put a dent in mobile ad revenue for Google -- which now owns AdMob -- as well as any other developer of mobile hardware or software that enters the mobile ad-delivery business (for example, Microsoft).
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Developers make money from their free mobile apps by bundling them with ads delivered by one of many providers. The apps communicate with the ad providers, sending along critical data about users, ad views, ad clicks, and the like. That enables the service to target ads more intelligently, measure the progress of ad campaigns, track how much revenue a given developer gets, tailor ad campaigns for advertisers, and so forth. Cut off that exchange of data, and ads lose much of their value.
Under Apple's new rules, a developer's app running on the iPhone or other mobile Apple platform could only share the data it gathers with "an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent.)"
That's pretty specific, right? Now what ad services out there are affiliated with developers or distributors of mobile devices or mobile operating systems? Two immediately spring to mind: AdMob, now owned by Google (as mentioned above), and iAd, Apple's mobile ad platform. But Apple conveniently excludes itself from the "independent" restriction it puts on other services.