Apple Targeting to Kill Ad Networks' Targeting?

By Tim Butler | Posted at 16:19

Peter Kafka writes,

As I understand it, Apple is arguing that [iPhone and iPad] app makers can’t pass along information that incorporates each phone’s “unique device identifier” to ad networks and measurement companies.

This doesn’t expressly prohibit ad networks from selling ads, but it prevents them from selling targeted advertising, which is close to the same thing when it comes to mobile devices. The same problem would plague analytics companies, which might be able to compile very broad usage info about apps, but little else.

Nonsense. Your computer's web browser doesn't offer a unique hardware serial number to every web site either. Back in the late 90's when it looked like we were headed into such an invasive privacy situation with Intel's PSN (Processor Serial Number) system, people were rightly outraged and the system died a quick death.

An IP address, or in the case of an application in which a user logs into an online service (e.g. Facebook), the user's login and associated profile, are more than enough targeting data to create useful analytics. This seems to be a part of Apple's continued attempt to differentiate its practices from Google's. As Gruber observed recently,

I detected one other veiled insult against Google during the event — Jobs’s emphasis during the multitasking segment about how seriously Apple values the privacy of iPhone users, with regard to data and location information. In the way that the standard knock against Apple is that they maintain too much control over the App Store, the standard knock against Google is that they don’t value user privacy. Jobs’s message: You can trust Apple.

I expect Apple to continue to play up this theme as its war with Google escalates.

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