Is iAd Jobs’ Rotten Apple?

Financial Times reports that agencies and software developers welcomed Apple’s iAd announcement last week. But Justin Spohn of Portland strategy firm, Fight, is not impressed by Apple’s move into the mobile advertising business.

Here is my fundamental problem with iAd: It makes no sense from a brand strategy point of view. It’s irrational, and philosophically counter to nearly every previous decision Apple has made under Jobs. To be clear, it’s not crazy in the way that most people will ever notice — after all, most of us have spent the last 15 years being trained to expect display advertising as just a way of life. But advertising is fundamentally user-hostile. That’s the core nature of it; it’s why it works. It’s designed to make you stop whatever you were doing and look at something else. While it probably seems histrionic to take something so seemingly small and blow it up to this size, I do believe this marks a fundamental change in motivation for Jobs and Apple.
This is the first time I can think of that Apple has chosen to make money at the direct expense of its customers’ product experience.

Spohn believes that this fundamental change (away from product development) is being driven by Apple’s desire to compete with Google. In other words, the idea that Steve Jobs actually cares about making mobile advertising more relevant to his handset users is just too hard to buy.
But is it? Jobs is a smart man and smart men know that advertising is like air. He’s also a king of the universe and it takes that kind of character to enter a new industry and change it.
Apple with its insanely successful iTunes store already made the migration to the media business. The mobile ad business looks like a cake walk by comparison. Plus, it seems likely that Jobs likes to make trainloads of loot and beautifully engineered communications products.
Previously on AdPulp: Apple Enters Mobile Advertising Arena, Will Soon Dominate It



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.