Apple relaxes iPhone Advertising Restrictions. Locks AdMob out

At D8 last week Steve Jobs offered a rather weak argument for why Apple had changed clause 3.3.9 in its iPhone Developer Agreement. The changes appeared to ban third parties from collecting analytical data from apps running on customer’s iPhones. And, if you remember, caused some consternation when first reported, shortly after the iPhone OS 4.0 Preview event.

Steve’s explanation for the change was that companies like Flurry (who provide App Store analysis to developers and the media) were snooping on prototype devices on Apple’s campus, and Apple wanted to put a stop to that.

At the time he promised to look at ways that Apple could let third parties use data collected from users devices with their customer’s express permission, and also in ways that did not upset Apple’s need for secrecy when developing prototypes. Anyone else giggle when they read that last bit?

Whilst what Steve said made sense. By that I mean he used English when speaking the words. It certainly seemed like a fairly weak argument, dressed up in a vague concern for “consumer privacy issues”, and a rather bizarre whinge about prototype data getting leaked from Apple’s campus!

On the surface of it Steve seems to have kept his promise, as the iPhone Developer Agreement has been updated this week with the release of the iOS 4.0 Gold Master. The change now allows third parties to collect a subset of data from users iDevices when running apps produced by App Store developers.

With one fairly major exception though. Google’s AdMob, and any service Microsoft or any other rival smartphone maker might launch, are now all explicitly banned, rather then simply being banned collectively along with everyone else!
Apple’s new clause 3.3.9 reads as follows : (The relevant bit is in bold)

The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to 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); and the disclosure is limited to UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes.

The part highlighted in bold specifically targets AdMob, which is now part of Google, who are very clearly “a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems”.

Do you think this is fair play by Apple?┬áLet us know your thoughts in the comments…

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Stephen NorthcottApple relaxes iPhone Advertising Restrictions. Locks AdMob out

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