Google Acquires Mobile Ad Network AdMob for $750 Million
NOTE! I know this was in November – well spotted! It was a draft story that I’ve accidentally hit the publish button for! Still, it’s getting retweeted now so it seems too late to pull it. Feel free to laugh.
Attention seems to have wandered away from the trad desktop (you know: that thing that everybody in the whole world uses every single day) to the mobile market (you know: that thing that a few dudes with iPhones actually make much use of).We know that tech moves outward from early adopters through to the masses, but the problems posed by screen size, interfaces and connectivity mean that it’s unlikely your gran will be making the leap any time soon.
Still, a few years from now as early adopters age and technology improves, mobile will become a proper platform for a distinct kind of content delivery that we already see made flesh in iPhone apps.
Google, or course, aren’t unaware of this and recognise that mobile apps pose an interesting quandary to their model. In Dublin earlier this year, a presentation given to web marketing agencies made heavy, heavy mention of mobile, focussing on their co-founding role in the .mobi TLD and their Android platform. But they do have a strategic weakness here. A dedicated app that presents data for house prices using GPS and access to estate agency databases through a cool, usable touch screen interface probably offers more value than a search for “houses for sale in Leeds” on Google, for example – and it’s now clear that people will pay for those kinds of applications.
So in an interesting replay of the Google vs. Microsoft battle, it is now Google who face the distributed wit of thousands of keen, savvy app developers who are at home in this environment in a way that Google’s own developers just aren’t. Google’s attempts to face off with Apple (who, realistically, own the future of this space) through Nexus 1 and the Android platform are interesting, but no tech company outside Apple has shown the ability to move outside their core platform.; IBM couldn’t move from mainframes to the desktop, Microsoft couldn’t move from the desktop to the internet… so when Nexus finally does arrive, we’ll really start to see how this plays out.
With Google’s resources and know how it should be possible to compete in the apps market directly – but the purchase of AdMob suggests that they are still betting on search-based Advertising as the revenue model for a mobile future. I’m not so sure. As I’ve mentioned, paying a fiver for an app that does an incredible job in a specific vertical seems to be attractive to users. People are reaching the stage of ad saturation, as evidenced by the number of people with adblocking extensions.
So what do you think? Is this the kind of small-change acquisition that suggests Google are just going to stick to their core model or something that indicates that they don’t quite have a handle on future of mobile platforms? Or do you think that search is a big part of the future for mobile and Google will inevitably come to dominate this space through acquisitions like this?