Apple buys Quattro Wireless
Apple encroached onto Google's turf on Tuesday with its acquisition of Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising company.
The New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — Apple encroached onto Google's turf on Tuesday with its acquisition of Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising company.
The sale, which Quattro announced, is the latest sign that mobile advertising is the next battleground for technology companies, particularly for Apple and Google, which are increasingly in competition. Apple paid close to $300 million for Quattro, according to a person briefed on the deal.
As part of the deal, Quattro Chief Executive Andy Miller will become vice president of mobile advertising at Apple, MarketWatch reported.
While Apple, maker of the iPhone, branched into advertising on Tuesday, Google, which is predominantly an advertising company, launched its first piece of hardware, the Nexus One cellphone.
"You can just see the tempers rising between the two companies," said Gene Munster, the senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray covering Internet companies. "Two years ago it was a very friendly relationship. Now just every day it gets more competitive."
In November, Google agreed to buy AdMob, a mobile advertising network that competed with Quattro, for $750 million. Apple had also been interested in AdMob, according to people with knowledge of that deal. With Quattro, Apple will also compete in the mobile ad market with Microsoft and Yahoo.
Apple is probably less interested in profiting from ads than from making the iPhone the most attractive device for developers to build applications, analysts said.
Eighty percent of the 3 billion downloads from Apple's App Store are free, Munster said. By offering a way to sell ads, Apple will help these developers — as well as developers who might build applications for a future Apple tablet — make money.
"My hypothesis is this has more to do with ensuring their platform is as valuable to developers as any other platform," said Julie Ask, a vice president and mobile analyst at research firm Forrester.
Quattro, based in Waltham, Mass., places ads for major companies including Ford, Procter & Gamble and Visa. It serves 4 billion ad impressions a month on iPhones, Google Android devices and other smartphones. The ads range from full-blown applications or videos to small brand ads on a group of Web sites including those of Time, CBS Interactive and Gawker Media.
The business of placing ads on smartphone screens is nascent but quickly growing. Advertisers spent just $416 million on mobile ads in 2009, compared with $22 billion on Web sites, according to eMarketer.
Yet mobile ad spending is expected to grow to $1.6 billion by 2013, as smartphones and other small mobile computing devices become increasingly popular. Seventeen percent of adult cellphone subscribers in the United States have smartphones, up from 11 percent a year ago, according to Forrester.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.