FTCが全会一致でGoogleによるAdMob買収を承認–Appleの市場参入が契機

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連邦取引委員会(Federal Trade Commission, FTC)の今日(米国時間5/21)の発表によると、同委員会は、Googleがモバイル広告ネットワークAdMobを$750M(7億5000万ドル)で買収するという案件を承認した。この記事の下に埋め込んだ発表文には、”連邦取引委員会は、Googleが提出していたモバイル広告ネットワーク企業AdMobの買収案件の調査を完了し、案件を十分に精査した結果、モバイル広告ネットワークという新興市場においてそれが競争を阻害することはないと結論した”、と書かれている。Googleは間髪を入れず同社のブログ記事で、FTCの決定を賞賛した。AdMobの声明はここにある。

FTCはこの買収案件を反トラスト法違反の嫌疑で特別に重視し、調査期間を最初の予定より延長することまで行った。一方Googleは、承認を求めて強力なロビー活動を展開した。

発表文の中でFTCは、最近Appleがモバイル広告ネットワークQuattro Wirelessを買収したことにより、AdMobの買収がこの業界における競争を完全に排除するわけではないことが示された、と言っている。以下引用すると: “Appleはモバイル広告ネットワークにおける強力な競争企業になることを目指している”。本誌はこれと同じことを、数週間前の記事で論じた。

調査の一環としてFTCは、モバイルアプリケーションのデベロッパたちからも意見を聴取した。彼らの中にはAdMobの競合他社もいたが、ほぼ一致して、この買収案件を支持すると述べた。またその一部は、調査の関係者の中には、調査に必要な業界知識のない者や、アンチGoogle主義の者もいると考えていた。

たしかに、今回の経緯を見ると、はじめFTCはGoogleに対して敵対的だったようである。いずれにしても巨大化したGoogleは、FTCのブラックリストに載ってしまい、今後の大型案件にもやはりFTCは必然的に神経をとがらせることになるのだ。

【FTC発表文: 英文ママ】

The Federal Trade Commission has closed its investigation of Google’s proposed acquisition of mobile advertising network company AdMob after thoroughly reviewing the deal and concluding that it is unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks.

In a statement issued today, the Commission said that although the combination of the two leading mobile advertising networks raised serious antitrust issues, the agency’s concerns 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 addition, a number of firms appear to be developing or acquiring smartphone platforms to better compete against Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, and these firms would have a strong incentive to facilitate competition among mobile advertising networks.

“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,” the Commission’s statement explains.

The Commission stressed that mergers in fast-growing new markets like mobile advertising should get the same level of antitrust scrutiny as those in other markets. The statement goes on to note that, “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.”

Mobile ad networks, such as those provided by Google and AdMob, sell advertising space for mobile publishers, who create applications and content for websites configured for mobile devices, primarily Apple’s iPhone and devices that run Google’s Android operating system. By “monetizing” mobile publishers’ content through the sale of advertising space, mobile ad networks play a vital role in fueling the rapid expansion of mobile applications and Internet content.

According to the FTC’s statement, evidence gathered by the agency raised important questions about the transaction. Google and AdMob have competed head-to-head for the past few years, with a notable increase in intensity during the past year. This competition has spurred innovation and allowed mobile publishers to keep a large share of the revenue generated from the sale of their ad space. The companies also have economies of scale that give them a major advantage over smaller rivals in the business, the statement says.

These concerns, however, were outweighed by recent evidence that Apple is poised to become a strong competitor in the mobile advertising market, the FTC’s statement says. Apple recently acquired Quattro Wireless and used it to launch its own iAd service. In addition, Apple can leverage its close relationships with application developers and users, its access to a large amount of proprietary user data, and its ownership of iPhone software development tools and control over the iPhone developers’ license agreement.

The Commission vote to close the investigation was 5-0.

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(翻訳:iwatani(a.k.a. hiwa))