May 24, 2010

FTC Passes On Challenging Google-AdMob Merger

Antitrust enforcement is not going mobile, at least as of today.

On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission decided not to challenge to Google’s $750 million purchase of AdMob, which places electronic advertisements on cell phones and other mobile devices.

According to the FTC, the decision was “a difficult one because the parties currently are the two leading mobile advertising networks, and the Commission was concerned about the lost of head-to-head competition between them.”  What turned the FTC around was Apple’s December purchase of Quattro, a company that competes with AdMob, along with Apple’s subsequent launching of its own mobile advertising program.  That program, called iAd, will focus on placing ads on Apple’s rabidly successful iPhone, iPod, and iPad mobile devices. 

This is not a surprising decision, given how new and fluid the mobile market place is, and how many competitors already exist.  Aside from AdMob (founded only four years ago) and Apple, other companies in the space include Apploop, Bango, Smaato, Approlix, Adfonic, Millenial Media, JumpTag, PurpleTalk, Greystripe, Medialets, InMobi, MobGold, uLocate, 4INFO. 

Despite the Commission’s decision not to block the Google-AdMob merger, the FTC did state that the mobile advertising space does constitute a market – albeit an emerging one.  And the FTC also indicated that it will keep a close eye on both Google and Apple.  Neither company should be surprised if they hear from the FTC again.

Categories: Antitrust Enforcement

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