Apple appears to be getting into the mobile advertising business, through a rumored purchase of Quattro Wireless for US$275 million. This is about a third of what Google hopes to pay for competitor AdMob, if the feds don't end up blocking that deal.
The news of the deal comes this morning from All Things D, which helpfully reminds us that both Quattro and AdMob, which Apple unsuccessfully tried to purchase, are in a hot sector right now. Getting advertising onto smartphones, such as Apple's iPhone and Google's Nexus One, being introduced today, is seen as a big growth opportunity by the investing class. And as another maddening distraction by the rest of us.
Businesses seeking to advertise in the mobile environment should consider Google's intended purchase of AdMob as a good deal, if only because it is likely to simplify ad purchasing. Business users will, of course, probably not like the proliferation of advertising on their handsets that we are beginning to see and these two purchases portend.
For Apple, the Quattro deal is the company's first investment in ad delivery. There are a number of ways Apple could use Quattro are part of its iPhone and, especially, tablet plans. Sponsored content for the tablet might be a way to subsidize the device's cost or networking expense.
Such ads, on the larger screen, might be loss obnoxious than handset advertising, which seems to bother users a great deal. The key to mobile advertising is to be immediately useful, by combining the user's needs and interests with location-awareness.
Not all ads need to be location-based, but Google can presumably figure out that I like Mexican food and might deliver ads to be around lunchtime when I am near Mexican places.
The ideal mobile ad needs to include some sort of a coupon and, ideally, a payment scheme. We're seeing bits and pieces of this already, though nobody seems to have gotten this together. Sounds like a Google project to me.
Meanwhile, this is the latest round in the new epic struggle between Apple and Google for, well, what? The two companies used to be BFFs, but that soured relationship has been replaced with competition in mobile services and operating systems, which Apple does well, and, now, advertising delivery, which is hard to imagine Apple ever doing well.
The Microsoft/Google battle seems to have moved to the backburner, with Apple/Google becoming hotter and more interesting, if less strategic.