Google Ads vs Apple Ads (and why I don’t care)

admob_logoSo Apple has a new advertising platform for iPhones.

And, yesterday it is made clear that Apple does not want Google’s advertising platform (AdMob) for mobile devices on iPhones.

Then, today, the head of AdMob made it clear that he thinks that what Apple is doing sucks (my words).

There are, roughly, 1.21 jigawatts of dollars at stake.

And I don’t care.  Not even a teensy, tiny bit.

And here’s why.

iad_logoApple is being a giant baby.

So Apple decided to make a product to force-feed advertising down our throats.  Awesome.  Great.  Way to go Apple.

But they don’t want Google to be able to use their advertising product on the iPhone (even though Google was there first), so they change their terms of service to intentionally keep Google out.

Just to be crystal, freaking clear here: Apple is banning third party developers from even attempting to use the iPhone platform with their own software.

This would be like Microsoft banning any company from even making a web browser for Windows.  If that happened the entire world would erupt into a frenzy, light the torches, and head for Redmond demanding blood.

What’s the matter?  Apple doesn’t think they can make an advertising service that can compete with AdMob?  So they pull a total jerk move and just state that “Google can’t play in our sandbox anymore!”.  It’s like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at this point.  This sort of behavior is pretty much expected from Apple these days.  Sad though.  We’ve come a long way from the early Apple.  The days when their first machines actually shipped with the schematics of the hardware.  They’ve gone from empowering people, and pushing things forward… to locking down their hardware and software and attempting to legally ban people from even using them.  Sad, sad days.

Advertising sucks.

I should clarify that statement.

Advertising has always, and will always be around.  No doubt about that.

And there is nothing inherently wrong with the simple act of “letting people know that you make something, and they can buy it from you”.  In fact, that is a necessity.

But things are getting out of hand.

colgate-comedy-hourLets look at Television for a second.

Back in the 1960’s, an hour long TV show would have about 9 minutes of advertising (including in-show ads, “product placement”  and ads between shows).

Flash forward to today and that same, hour long, TV show will typically have about 18 minutes of dedicated, standalone, advertising (not including product placements).  (This gets way, way worse for those that watch much Reality TV shows.)

The net result is that the simple act of looking at advertisements has become one of the most common and time intensive things we do each day.

And that is, without a doubt, terrible.

Advertising on mobile devices sucks.

With all that in mind, why on this green earth of ours, would we want to fill every single gadget and device we own with yet more ads?

Go to make a phone call or look up an address?  Boom.  Ads.

Go to search for posts on a social network for a particular type of car?  Ka-blamo.  Ads.

This is getting way, way out of hand.

I don’t care how “impressive” the advertising platform is from a technical standpoint.  I don’t care if I can look at an advertisement for a car, on my phone, that lets me rotate the car with my finger.  If it uses up even one quarter inch of a 3 inch screen… that’s too much.

And, yes, I know developers need to earn a living.  That is a topic I tend to talk quite a lot about.  And if including embedded advertisements within mobile applications is a way to do that… I have a hard time poo-poo-ing the idea.

But, just the same, it is a bad idea.  A very, very bad idea.

macintosh_128k_transparencyHow would you have felt if, in 1984, you turned on your shiny new Macintosh 128k only to be presented with “Brought to you by Bank of America” with a small, interactive display taking up half the screen about why that company is great.

Or how about if you turned on your trusty PC.  Windows 95 boots up.  Everything is normal.  Then you go to launch Notepad and the top half of the Notepad window is taken up by a display for Paula Abdul’s latest album.  And, when you accidentally mouse over that portion of the window, small clips of the songs start playing and the advertisement expands to take up your whole monitor.

Sounds awesome?  Because that is exactly what is happening right now on some of these mobile devices (especially the iPhone).

So I just don’t care.

If Apple wants to act like a toddler throwing a tantrum.  Fine.

If they want to turn mobile devices into something more about turning us into better, more rabid, consumers of advertisements… and less about bringing on a new era of portable computing power and freedom… Fine.

They are taking what could be an amazing step in computing history and turning it into something that sucks.

And that sucks a lot.

Luckily, for us, there are companies out there producing mobile devices that are not bogged down with ads.  And those are the companies that we should be supporting.

Share Button
  • Scott Free

    Why not give a list of these other companies that we should be supporting?

  • Piet

    iAds are not system wide, iAds are only available in apps. Not the system-apps, third party apps. Nobody is forcing you to watch the ads, you can always not buy the app (and in many cases buy the ad-free app). In app advertising is a valid way to support the Freemium model.

    Sure some developers are going to abuse the ads to be obnoxious, guess what, don’t buy their stuff. Stick with the other apps.

    Apple has never done advertising systemwide (MS at one stage tried with the IE-corporate branding), I guess all this rage is coming from watching to many TV-commercials, funny thing, this time we do have a choice if we want to watch ads or not.

  • Joe Mulloy

    That the great thing about Palm and webOS. Unlike Apple and Google they don’t have any other agenda. The only thing they do is make smartphones. You can’t write an application that they would feel threatened by. Google isn’t just giving android away out of the goodness of their hearts. They want lots of people using it because it keeps people in the Google ecosystem. Sure it can be used without Google services, but it certainly steers you towards them.

  • Dusty

    So you’re moving to RIM now?

  • Eric Beyer

    I don’t claim to be an expert in IT or in business. But listening to discussions like this one over the years, it seems that there is intense interest in monetizing all the stuff we do on the internet – be it banner ads, search engine ads, come-ons in Facebook, spam, spim and on and on.

    On the one hand, I hate being bombarded with ads. Visiting Salon, for example, is like chewing tin-foil with all the ads and pop-ups – virtually unwatchable without an ad-block extension.

    On the other hand, advertisements make much of the content we have on the internet exist. Because, let’s face it, you and I are not gonna pay $50/year for an ad-free subscription. And where would the Linux Action Show be without (enter promo-code Linux for 10% off your hosting!)

    Should I care exactly how those ads are delivered? Of course not. Because the advertisers are going to find a way to get to me one way or the other. It’s their job. Block iAd and Admob and I’ll get my ad for a platinum Chase mastercard beamed into my brain or lasered into the side of a hot dog I’m eating.

    Fun times.


  • that guy

    Did Google apologize you or not for that adwords incident?

  • the_madman

    Did you miss it? There’s already a massive wad of screen real-estate given up in the Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Mail applications for advertising. Microsoft are also planning on replacing Microsoft Works with a small, basic Microsoft Word and Microsoft Spreadsheet… with advertisements.

    I don’t mind adverts that much, as long as they’re done tastefully. See GMail: a tiny, tiny strip of text that gets out of my way, but might just have something in it that I am interested in. Compare that with Hotmail or Windows Live Messenger, where a huge chunk is taken out of my screen real-estate for something completely out-of-place that flashes and moves about and hell, sometimes even requires me to move my cursor around it to stop it devouring even more of my screen real-estate with something I don’t have the slightest interest in. Hellish.

    Still, having used Linux for so long and have had ad-free programs the whole time, it’s not so bad for me. I get away from a lot of it.

    I think advertisement should take a much less direct approach and instead, be more about, “endorsement”. For example, a, “Relevent Websites” or, “Links” page for companies that are relevant (, for instance, might include links to Adobe’s website directly to a page where people can buy the CS5 suite, to directly to where you can purchase a web hosting solution, to Amazon for books about website design etc. etc.). I don’t mind discovering new stuff, especially stuff that’s relevant to my interests, but I want to *discover* it, not have it thrown in my face along with tons and tons of garbage that is completely irrelevant and that I have no interest in what-so-ever.