The champagne is flowing in Mountain View; the FTC has declined to sue to block Google’s $750 million acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob. It appears that the public-facing rationale for the decision is the entry of Apple into the mobile ad market.
The FTC put out the following statement:
In a statement issued today, the Commission said that although the combination of the two leading mobile advertising networks raised serious antitrust issues, the agency’s concerns ultimately were overshadowed by recent developments in the market, most notably a move by Apple Computer Inc. – the maker of the iPhone – to launch its own, competing mobile ad network. In addition, a number of firms appear to be developing or acquiring smartphone platforms to better compete against Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, and these firms would have a strong incentive to facilitate competition among mobile advertising networks.
“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 Commission’s statement explains.
The Commission stressed that mergers in fast-growing new markets like mobile advertising should get the same level of antitrust scrutiny as those in other markets. The statement goes on to note that, “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.”
Omar Hamoui, AdMob Founder and CEO said the following (in email) in response to the decision:
We are extremely pleased with today’s decision from the Federal Trade Commission to clear Google’s acquisition of AdMob. Over the past six months we’ve received a great deal of support from across the mobile industry – and we deeply appreciate it. Our focus is now on working with the team at Google to quickly close the deal.