NEWS14 April 2010

App developers fear Apple ban on third-party analytics software

Data analytics North America

US— Has Apple just cut the bottom out of the app analytics market? Changes to its iPhone developer agreement expressly prohibit “the use of third party software… to collect and send device data to a third party for processing or analysis”.

Web developer Eric Kerr blogged about the changes, and warned that “the clause all but signals the death of third-party analytics software built to provide application developers information about how their applications are being used”.

Picking up on Kerr’s post, web analytics consultant Eric Peterson has penned an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, asking him to reconsider the outright ban and instead have the company craft “a set of terms and conditions for application tracking that would simultaneously provide guidance to your developer community and create an unprecedented level of transparency for technology end-users everywhere”.

“Measurement is not as sexy as the iPad or iPhone,” says Peterson, “but at the end of the day it is just about as important. With every new technology comes the need to understand it’s use and justify related expenses.”

News of the ban comes ahead of the launch of Apple’s iAd platform, which effectively allows advertisers to create mini applications that will be served within applications.

Uptake of the service by advertisers is likely contingent on them having enough information about app users and their behaviours so they know where best to target their iAds for maximum effectiveness and how much to pay for the eyeballs they are getting.

The analytics ban has led some to speculate that Apple may be planning to offer its own usage tracking and measurement services – certainly Quattro Wireless, the mobile ad platform Apple bought in January, provides its own campaign measurement and post-campaign analysis services. Will this be rolled out to iAd users, or will Apple follow its rival Adobe in acquiring a web analytics company like Omniture?

More to follow tomorrow.