Thanks to Apple and its own plans to enter the mobile ad business, Washington has given its blessing to Google's $750 million acquisition of AdMob, a mobile advertising network. The 5-0 decision by the Federal Trade Commission today to close the investigation comes on the heels of a vow by Google CEO Eric Schmidt to fight Washington if it had blocked the deal.
In its statement (PDF), the commission said the "serious antitrust issues" that were raised by the acquisition "ultimately were overshadowed by recent developments in the market, most notably a move by Apple Computer Inc. - the maker of the iPhone - to launch its own, competing mobile ad network." In its statement, the commission wrote:
As a result of Apple’s entry (into the market), AdMob’s success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob’s competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not... Though we have determined not to take action today, the Commission will continue to monitor the mobile marketplace to ensure a competitive environment and to protect the interests of consumers.
While it didn't name HP specifically and its plans to acquire Palm, the commission also suggested that competition could be getting even stronger as "a number of firms appear to be developing or acquiring smartphone platforms to better compete with Apple's iPhone and Google's Android, and these firms would have a strong incentive to facilitate competition among mobile advertising networks."
In its own statement, Google called the decision "great news for the mobile advertising ecosystem as a while." It said it is working to close the deal in the coming weeks.