Apple to Expand Ad Business as It Kneecaps Facebook

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Don’t tell Apple CEO Tim Cook that he can’t have it both ways because, well, he can.

It was revealed Thursday that Apple will add more advertisements to its App store, just as it’s preparing to block competing apps and advertisers from collecting data about most iPhone users.

Old Feuds Die Hard

Apple has long desired to be a major player in the $350 billion digital ads business. As online advertising has boomed, however, it’s played kid brother to tech giant rivals Facebook and Google who dominate the space.

  • Google, Facebook and distant third Amazon account for over two thirds of all U.S. digital ad spending, according to Insider Intelligence.
  • Cook has attacked Google and Facebook for relying on large troves of data to target their ads, though the feud goes as far back as 2010 when Google outbit Apple to buy AbMob for $750 million.

Now, Apple’s next software update will ban apps and advertisers from collecting data from users unless they explicitly consent. It could cost advertisers billions.

At the same time, Apple will add a new advertising slot to the “suggested” apps section in its App Store search page. It’s a strong suggestion that the company plans to ramp up its advertising business just as it throws a wrench in the works of its competitors.

“Apple may say they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track with their competitive interests,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO.

Tracking You Anyway: Apple talks a big game on privacy, and insists its App Store changes are to protect its users. But Noyb — a European privacy group — filed complaints to German and Spanish regulators in November alleging the company tracks users without their consent using a unique tracking code generated by each iPhone.

the takeaway

You really can have your cake and eat it, too.