FTC Approves Google’s AdMob Acquisition Citing Apple’s iAd as Competition

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The Federal Trade Commission announced Friday that it was closing its investigation into Google’s acquisition of mobile advertising network AdMob, giving its regulatory blessing to the corporate marriage. In a statement, the FTC specifically cited Apple’s iAd advertising network for the iPhone, “is poised to become a strong competitor in the mobile advertising market.”

“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 FTC said in a statement.

The FTC also also laid out the concerns it had that sparked the investigation to begin with. The agency considered Google and AdMob to be the two largest mobile ad networks, and said that competition between them had resulted in innovation and other benefits to consumers. By merging, the two firms would have had economies of scale advantages that would have allowed Google to steamroll over smaller competitors.

Countering this, however, is Apple’s iAd service, which is being built on top of Apple’s own acquisition of Quattro Wireless. In addition, the FTC noted that other unspecified companies were either developing or acquiring smartphone platforms that should facilitate competition in the mobile advertising market. HP, for instance, recently bought WebOS, and could develop its own smartphone platform.

Lastly, the FTC put the U.S. tech world on notice that it would continue to scrutinize “fast growing new markets,” and not give them the kind of regulatory pass they may have gotten in the past.

“Though we have determined not to take action today, the Commission will continue to monitor the mobile marketplace to ensure a competitive environment and to protect the interests of consumers,” the agency said.

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