Peter Kafka at MediaMemo reports that part of Apple's future of iPhone OS event will in fact be the announcement of their mobile ad network, the culmination of their $275 million purchase of mobile ad company Quattro. He follows up on MediaPost's surprisingly on-point report, that Apple would announce the iAd mobile ad platform on April 7 (off by just a day, it appears). That report, which notes Steve Jobs referring to it as "revolutionary" and "our next big thing," echoes an earlier one from BusinessWeek, which described him working on "ways to overhaul mobile advertising in the same way they had revolutionized music players and phones" because he thinks "mobile ads suck."
Kafka isn't sure about the name, (iAd sounds like a little too much, but hey, iPad, plus there's distinct possibility of AdKit). But he suspects that the network will be available for devs on other platforms (just like, assumedly, Google would open AdMob to Apple developers). His major take on the announcement—and maybe what Steve and Eric were having coffee about—is that Google's actually glad there'd be a rival mobile ad network, because competition in the market would help their case with the FTC, so their acquisition of AdMob, supposedly done under Apple's nose, would go all the way through.
Apple's had serious mobile ad plans for a while, given that they proceeded to purchase Quattro after losing out on AdMob to Google, so they're playing offensively, rather than defensively. It makes sense from a number of angles, even if you look at it from the perspective of apps. Right now, a massive chunk of the apps people download from the App Store are cheap or free, and ad supported. Out of 3 billion apps downloaded. There's apps to be subsidized, and eyeballs to glean, which translates into serious money to be made in due time. Mobile advertising, and the revenue that goes with it, is only going to explode.
Apple already controls the platform virtually top to bottom. Why not control the ads too? Especially since, as Steve says (supposedly), the ads mostly suck. One of the major uses of Flash, besides video, is for dynamic, attention-grabbing ads, which isn't possible on the iPhonePad. So, the captive audience is there: Advertisers who want flashy ads. I suspect the only way to get them, or at least, the best way to get them, since Apple's not above giving themselves an advantage, is through Apple's ad platform. Like, for example, making location-based ads, or interacting with the phone in a way that's not possible otherwise. Update: Commenter turleymuller points out another reason advertisers would be serious interested in Apple's platform is that Apple has a ton of user data from apps, iTunes and other sources, for some seriously targeted advertising.
So, even if you're not a developer, if you've got an iPhone—or any phone—or an iPad, I'd pay close attention to whatever ad thing Apple announces, since it could profoundly affect your experience. Or you know, maybe we'll be able to ignore whatever Apple comes up with just as much as we do every other ad. [MediaMemo]