Steve Jobs wants to protect you from his competitors. Thanks, Steve. But what’s the price to people like our clients who need to reach an audience through mobile advertising? And after that price has been paid, is user privacy really any safer with Apple?

Privacy is a hot topic these days. You need to know what’s behind the PR blowout around Facebook. You need to know when the impenetrable Google gets caught with its hand in the personal data cookie jar if any of those are yours or your customers’ cookies.

We’re not writing to add to this sonorous exchange, ranting about “big technology” and making up NSFW nicknames for Mark Zuckerberg. Instead, this post is about Apple’s latest big-business move that (thanks to a growing army of industry watchdogs) is being reported, analyzed and scorned by international media outlets.

Apple’s New Ad Policy

Apple recently released a revision to their developer agreement that essentially prevents developers of iPhone apps from using third-party advertising systems.

For those who care, it’s in section 3.3.9:

“You and Your Applications may not collect, use, or disclose to any third party, user or device data without prior user consent, and then only under the following conditions… – The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent); (emphasis mine) and the disclosure is limited to UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes.”

Removing Competition

The social media guide Mashable reports that, according to Steve Jobs, this latest move isn’t Apple taking aim at competitors’ advertising solutions (like, say, Google’s AdMob). Rather he claims “protecting user privacy” is the noble and justified reason for Apple removing all of their competitors from their iPhone, iPad and iPod software.

So as the world churns with angry mobs of jilted Facebook users, demanding the technology world respect their privacy, Apple “answers the call” by simply blocking their competition. According to a June 6th report from, the iPhone OS is the second most popular smartphone operating system on the planet, holding 28% of market share. The iTunes store is giant, boasting over 100,000 apps, now all limited to Apple’s proprietary advertising network iAd.

Why You Should Care

So, after all this, the question remains, is the user’s privacy really any better protected because of Apple’s new policy? As for businesses trying to reach iPhone users through in-App advertising, what kind of prices will they be subjected to in the iAd system? Is Apple going to do a “clean out” like their app store crusade in February, removing all the advertisers they think are too inappropriate for iAds?

For the average user, I have no great remedies for the growing encroachment of technology into our personal lives. If you’re going to use networks and/or tools maintained by somebody other than yourself to communicate, you must accept the fact that (even with protective legal measures in place and terms of use promises made) your data is at risk of being viewed, disseminated, and sold. Got some high risk, digital asset? Try to keep it as disconnected as possible.

Wait. There’s an Up Side

Personal data snatching concerns aside, the latest Apple development births yet another segment in the array of useful channels through which consumers can be reached. The best action anybody in this advertising environment can take is staying educated on the various advertisement networks available and understand the circumstances that come with employing them (or hire the experts 😉 ). As for a potential price hike from Apple’s exclusive iAd networks: we’ll wait to see what Jobs has in store (and if the antitrust bell shall toll).