Mobile Advertising A Huge Battle For A Tiny Space This past week, Apple bought ad company Quattro Wireless for nearly $300 million, just on the heels of Google's November acquisition of AdMob for $750 million. Host Liane Hansen speaks with Gene Munster, a research analyst for the investment firm Piper-Jaffray, about the war for ads on mobile devices that's taking shape between Apple and Google.
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Mobile Advertising A Huge Battle For A Tiny Space

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Mobile Advertising A Huge Battle For A Tiny Space

Mobile Advertising A Huge Battle For A Tiny Space

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As Google unveiled the Nexus One, another tech giant was making a big move. Apple paid nearly $300 million for mobile advertising company Quattro Wireless. This comes on the heels of Google's $800 million acquisition of AdMob in November. Gene Munster is a research analyst for the investment firm Piper-Jaffray, and he joins us from the studios of Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul. Welcome.

Mr. GENE MUNSTER (Research Analyst, Piper-Jaffray): Thanks for having me.

HANSEN: Is it my imagination or is the stage being set for some kind of epic battle between Apple and Google? What's happening?

Mr. MUNSTER: Well, it basically was a declaration of war from Google when they announced the Nexus One phone. And you're exactly right - the battleground is over advertising and really this explosive growth that's going to happen in the next 10 years with mobile devices.

And so two smart companies here - both Apple and Google, who realize the opportunity and the potential and think that's a great way to say it's going to be a battle.

HANSEN: What's the opportunity for Apple briefly?

Mr. MUNSTER: The opportunity is this advertising market in terms of the Quattro acquisitions specifically is that essentially what they want to do is create an environment where it's easy for app developers to make money. Eighty percent of the apps that are downloaded from iTunes are for free, and basically what Quattro will do is help those app developers make money easily.

HANSEN: And what does Google get out of acquiring AdMob?

Mr. MUNSTER: Well, Google gets the same. They want to have an easy platform, just like Apple, for their developers that make their apps to make money as well off those free applications. And so essentially Apple and Google have the exact same intentions in their acquisitions of AdMob and Quattro.

HANSEN: So, mobile ads are coming and there's something that's called location-based advertising. How does that work? I mean, you know, what would happen if I had, you know, one of these phones?

Mr. MUNSTER: Well, it's an advertisers dream. And essentially what happens is there's a lot of information that an advertiser has, that a network has just by you having one of these smartphones. As you're walking down the street, they know your exact location, they know your gender, your age, because you signed up for a plan. They also will know the time of day and so and some of your history searching habits in the past.

And so essentially these devices will be able to zap ads to you as you're walking down the street that maybe, for example, an ad for a coupon for a dinner that might be around the corner. But that potential - and that's just scratching the surface - is massive.

HANSEN: Yeah. I mean, the iPhones already have the maps that feature, you know, if you type restaurants and it shows pushpins. But this is an actual ad that I'll get if I'm near the restaurant and they want to advertise to me?

Mr. MUNSTER: Exactly. They could just present an ad to you, even though you might not even do a query.

HANSEN: That's going to annoy people, you know? Do you think?

Mr. MUNSTER: Well...

HANSEN: I mean, think how pop-up ads have really begun to annoy.

Mr. MUNSTER: Yeah, we think there's going to be, to that point, this secondary effect of essentially a lot of these free apps right now don't have advertising and they'll have a lot of advertising - it's going to get annoying. But then you'll have a pay-for option for $2 or 3 that get rid of the ads. So, $2 and let me be.

HANSEN: Did it surprise you that Apple got into the advertising business?

Mr. MUNSTER: It was a surprise. I mean, it's a historical day. The day that Google gets into the hardware business, Apple gets into the advertising business and this war begins. If you think about the next 10 years in computing and the mobile opportunity and the impressions that are being created and you step back, it does make a lot of sense that Apple gets in the advertising market.

Because an impression basically is a page impression equals an opportunity to an advertiser. There's a lot of money that's going to be able to be made off of advertising with all these impressions.

HANSEN: Let's talk about that money. I mean, at your firm, Piper-Jaffray, both Apple and Google are important to your investors. How do you see the battle between these two giants from an investment point of view?

Mr. MUNSTER: Well, there are two ways to think about this. I mean, we think of Apple as more of a hunter and Google as more of a farmer. Apple is hunting for the next best technology and there are really advantages to have something cool and hot that people are going to want to buy on a month-to-month basis.

Google has a much different approach. They are very long-term focused, they really want to build a platform and really try to extend their reach from searching to other advertising. So, from an investment standpoint we think Apple is a great opportunity in the next year just because they have so many exciting products, including the tablet, which we believe will be out in the next couple of months.

And from Google's perspective it's a much safer and longer term bet.

HANSEN: Gene Munster is a research analyst for Piper-Jaffray. He joined us from the studios of Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul. Thanks so much.

Mr. MUNSTER: Thank you.

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