It's taken over six months, but Google today announced they have completed their acquisition of mobile advertiser AdMob. The deal was in doubt because of a Federal Trade Commission investigation. Just last week, the FTC finally said the deal could go through citing Apple's recently announced iAd platform. It's clear Google is looking to put AdMob to work on all mobile platforms. "We believe that mobile advertising can play a significant role in every single marketing campaign. We’re passionate about the unlimited possibilities in this space,” said Google's Susan Wojcicki.
Apple was in discussions with AdMob when Google swooped in and paid $750 million for the mobile advertising powerhouse. It originally looked like Google might end up with egg on its face as the FTC started making noises about antitrust concerns. Now all is well in the Google-verse, and you can keep enjoying those annoying ads on your phone. Do you think the FTC gave the deal enough scrutiny?
A word to the wise, that innocuous looking copier in the corner of the office might be out to share your personal data with an unscrupulous lot. The good news is that the FTC has your back. Data security when it comes to digital copiers is a blind spot, even in many IT departments. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz made it clear in a recent letter that the agency was looking into the problem, and was starting an educational campaign to inform users of the danger.
These machines have hard drives that store the images scanned into them. If not properly secured, anyone can log in and retrieve the documents. The letter was sent to US Representative Markey in the wake of a CBS investigation that found used copiers often have personal data on the hard drives.
Have you made any copies at work you now wish you hadn't? Let us (and the IT department) know if you can access the data on your office copiers.
Sources are reporting today that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are wrangling over which one of them should lead a preliminary antitrust investigation of Apple. The action was spurred by Apple's new developer agreement which forces app designers to use only Apple programming tools. The inquiry may be launched in a matter of days, and will seek to determine if the policy damages competition in the mobile app space.
Apple's claim has been that adding a layer of abstraction (i.e. a third-party compiler) results in poorer quality apps; thus requiring specific developer tools is a quality control mechanism. Those on the other side, however, claim that Apple is seeking to force developers to choose Apple's platform instead of porting their code to multiple platforms. The worry is that independent developers won't have the resources to rewrite code for multiple platforms, so they will choose Apple's larger and more lucrative app store be default.
The possible inquiry does not mean anything is about to change. The preliminary analysis will determine if a full investigation is required. Do you think Apple is a fault here? How much control should they be allowed to exercise over their platform?
Google has come under heavy flak in recent times for what appears to be dwindling regard for people's privacy. It truly became conspicuous on the radar of privacy watchdogs with its Street View technology. A couple of months ago, it again caused a furore by choosing to launch Buzz, a social networking extension for its Gmail service, as an “opt-out” service.
The letter, dated April 19, is also signed by Stoddart's counterparts in France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom. The missive points to both Buzz and Street View as instances when Google launched a product “with such significant privacy issues.”
Stoddart has called on Google to ensure that its services honor fundamental privacy principles. The company has also been asked to outline ways in which it plans to ensure such conformity.
The FTC appears to be preparing to officially challenge Google's acquisition of AdMob on anti-trust grounds. Google has long insisted that the deal will not hinder competition. Sources say the FTC has asked AdMob's competitors to testify about the possible effect on the mobile advertizing industry should the deal go through.
Google announced the deal in November of last year, and the FTC took immediate interest. The Big G stated in December that the FTC was investigating the matter. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Google said, " Mobile-app advertising is less than two years old; there are more than a dozen mobile-ad networks." Google may have reason to worry as Apple is rumored to be gearing up for an entry inot the mobile ad space.
Google is still framing the situation with the FTC as a discussion, and not an adversarial legal battle. They are treading lightly hoping to get the deal approved, but all signs point to problems. Do you think the FTC has reason to fear a Google/AdMob deal?
Google Buzz is making all the wrong noises. It has been the talking point among privacy and digital rights activists ever since it launched. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-profit privacy advocacy group, wasted little time in highlighting several privacy issues with Buzz in a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In fact, it went ahead with the complaint despite Google making some crucial changes to address some of the major concerns.
Now, Google's failure to make Buzz an opt-in service has landed the company in further trouble. This time around, a bipartisan group comprising 11 congressmen has formally raised the matter with the FTC. "We are writing to express our concern over claims that Google's 'Google Buzz' social networking tool breaches online consumer privacy and trust. Due to the high number of individuals whose online privacy is affected by tools like this—either directly or indirectly—we feel that these claims warrant the Commission's review of Google's public disclosure of personal information of consumers through Google Buzz," they wrote in a letter to the FTC. Google would want to avoid a probe by making Buzz an opt-in service.
Wanting something done, and getting that something done are quite different tasks, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is discovering, yet once again. The FTC would like bloggers to disclose their connections to products or manufacturers when hyping a particular product or service, particularly in “non-traditional contexts”, such as tweets. The FTC wants to make sure you, the average consumer, isn’t being mislead by the endorsement. But how to do it?
The first of the FTC’s problems is identifying who is subject to the rules. That seems to be a simple one: if you write about a product or service online, presumably only if in glowing terms, then you qualify--be you a “celebrity or a mommy blogger.”
Second, how do you force disclosure? The FTC doesn’t want people to think there will be “storm troopers taking down suburban houses and seizing the computers of mommy bloggers.” (Storm troopers don’t do much positive for the FTC’s public image.) The FTC is saying they’ll take a less aggressive approach, paying a watchful eye on whether the claims about a product are true, or can be substantiated. If not, then the hammer comes down, but with an emphasis on companies rather than individuals.
The FTC says its rules for disclosure will apply in cases when consumers have a “reasonable expectation” that the author is not being paid to shill a product or service. “If the consumer knew that the person who was making that endorsement was being paid, would the consumer view that endorsement differently? I think that’s the bottom that we’re trying to get at,” said Leonard Gordon, FTC Northeast Regional Director.
The source of this are emails submitted for the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) investigation of Intel, with the selector of those emails being Intel. You don’t need a road sign (digital or otherwise) to see where this is going: full-speed down the Grapevine without any brakes.
According to the emails, AMD execs, including top dogs Hector Ruiz and Henri Richard, basically said their product was crap. AMD is described as “pathetic”, “cheap”, “less reliable”, and “lower quality”. Said Richard: “I certainly would never buy AMD for a personal system if I wasn’t working here.”
Take it all with a grain-of-salt. It’s a decent bet that AMD’s execs were lamenting AMD’s marketing strategy and poor performace. Ruiz, for example, was upset that AMD didn’t have “a more competitive product in the mobile space.” And AMD’s floundering mid-decade put it at a distinct disadvantage with OEMs, like Dell. Perhaps it was all tough love?
But then, who cares? A car wreck is a car wreck, and as much as we shouldn’t, we’ll still slow down to take a look.
Just last week we heard that the FTC was increasing scrutiny of the Google AdMob deal, and now two prominent consumer groups are getting into the mix. Both Consumer Watchdog and Center for Digital Democracy have asked the FTC to block the deal on anti-trust and data privacy grounds. They claim that the acquisition would lessen competition and harm consumers.
The groups took issue with the amount of data Google would have on consumer behavior if the deal were to go through. Though, Google may already have enough of this sort of data. This may be one of those times when Google wants a company for what they do, not just what they know about us. But these sorts of complaints tend to play well at the FTC.
Google offered a steep $750 million for AdMob, which is expected to reach $100 million in revenue in the next three years. Many have speculated that a Google-backed AdMob could essentially wipe out competitors in the mobile advertising space. Does the acquisition concern you? Google does come right out and say they’re not evil, right?
Google, which already has a pretty substantial presence in advertising on the Internet, is seeking to extend its reach with the acquisition of AdMob, a mobile advertising start-up. A sign that the purchase may be raising antitrust concerns: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which must first bestow its blessing on the purchase, is asking for additional information from Google.
Google’s Public Policy Blog reports: “This week we received what's called a "second request," which means that the FTC is asking for more information so that they can continue to review the deal.” Google’s not necessarily surprised by the request, because it knows “that closer scrutiny has been one consequence of Google's success.”
Google is still positive that the FTC will allow the planned purchase to be completed. Antitrust expert and Harvard law professor Andrew I. Gavil isn’t so sure. He believes the second request is not good news for Google. He points out that with a new set of FTC commissioners and a new administration, acquisitions such as this will get a more careful vetting.
Google's deal for AdMob isn't yet dead, but it is a bit further away from living than it was yesterday.