NEWS10 June 2010

Apple keeps third-party analytics ban in revised developer rules

Data analytics North America

US— Apple is sticking to its guns in banning third-party analytics software from iPhone and iPad apps, but the company will let app developers collect user or device data that is necessary to serve advertising, according to revised app development rules.

The new regulations were published in the wake of CEO Steve Jobs’ appearance at the All Thing Digital D8 conference last week, in which he explained that Apple’s position on third-party analytics was prompted by one company’s decision to use its analytics platform to peek at the iPad while it was still in testing.

Jobs told the conference: “If a developer needs to put some analytics in their app that sends some information out to an advertiser so they can make some money… they can do that. But they can’t send data out to an analytics firm who’s going to sell it to make money and publish it to tell everybody that we have devices on our campus we don’t want people to know about.”

The full wording of the relevant section of the Apple development agreement is as follows:

3.3.9 You and Your Applications may not collect, use, or disclose to any third party, user or device data without prior user consent, and then only under the following conditions:

- The collection, use or disclosure is necessary in order to provide a service or function that is directly relevant to the use of the Application. For example, without Apple’s prior written consent, You may not use third party analytics software in Your Application to collect and send device data to a third party for aggregation, processing, or analysis.

- The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent); and the disclosure is limited to UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes.

The second part of the agreement – where it says data can be provided to “an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads” – should come as a relief to companies like Medialets and Millennial Media, which operate both advertising and analytics platforms, though the more pure-play analytics companies like Flurry – the target of Jobs’ iPad ire – may struggle to operate within the scope of the rules.

Also seemingly barred under the agreement are companies like AdMob, a potential rival to Apple’s own iAd platform, but which is owned by Google and thus falls foul of Apple’s independence test (Google develops the Android mobile operating system).

In a blog post yesterday, AdMob CEO Omar Hamoui said: “The terms hurt both large and small developers by severely limiting their choice of how best to make money. And because advertising funds a huge number of free and low cost apps, these terms are bad for consumers as well.”

He adds: “We’ll be speaking to Apple to express our concerns.”