Feb 5 2010

Apple Bans Location-Based Ads

Apple has warned iPhone app developers that they will not be allowed to create apps that use user location data solely for advertisements. The warning, posted in Apple’s forums, is a bit vague, but promises that offending apps will be sent back to their developers to be changed. The warning reads in part:

If you build your application with features based on a user’s location, make sure these features provide beneficial information. If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store.

This comes as a blow to mobile developers who wanted to monetize their apps from location-based advertising. It remains to be seen how this policy will actually be implemented, being that the language is kind of vague and open to interpretation. Analysts have said that the situation is complicated by the fact that earlier in the announcement, Apple said that it is fine for developers to use location-based data to give information about local restaurants, weather, and ATMs.

The way I see it, Apple would not object to an app that tells a user what restaurants are in that user’s area based on location data, but would object to an app that collected location data solely for ads for local restaurants (especially for a non-restaurant related app).

Some analysts are indignant about this decision. I am not sure I see why they are angry. After all, the iPhone is Apple’s product and it has the right to regulate the sort of downloads available for it.

Via ReadWriteWeb, image via Apple.

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