The Federal Trade Commission will decide whether or not to approve the pending Google-Admob acquisition in a meeting tomorrow that will include the commissioners and the FTC chairman, says a source who’s been briefed on the matter. The $750 million deal was first announced in November 2009.
The FTC has taken a particularly close look at the deal, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has made a significant lobbying effort for approval. Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that the FTC was considering challenging the deal: “Discussions with FTC staff members suggest the agency could be preparing to block Google’s $750 million agreement to buy AdMob on the grounds it would shrink the mobile in-application advertising market from three to just two key players…”
But what hasn’t been clear until now is exactly when the FTC would make its decision. That time is tomorrow, says our source, and says that Google is prepared to fight a FTC blocking of the deal in court.
Nothing about this deal has been normal. Most tech industry insiders that we’ve spoken with don’t see it as a particular threat to competition with strong product offerings from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) and others. Unlike the proposed Google/Yahoo search deal in 2008 which could have strangled competition in search, the Google/Admob deal is unlikely to stop innovation and real competition in mobile advertising.
Perhaps that’s why 4INFO, a direct competitor to AdMob, was willing to write to the FTC earlier this year in support of the deal. The deal just isn’t striking fear into the hearts of mobile advertising companies at all. Perhaps the FTC should take that into account, along with all the Washington politics, when they make their decision. If anyone is stifling innovation and competition in mobile, it’s Apple. And I certainly don’t think the government should interfere with that company, either.