A recent Gartner survey reported that mobile apps, like those sold in Apple’s “App Store,” raked in more than $4.2 billion. By 2013, revenue is expecting to climb to $29.5 billion, of which 25 percent will be coming from advertising.
And, yet, Apple just announced that it was updating its Core Location services policy to vastly limit geo-locating apps?
Apple isn’t pulling the plug on all Geo-locator apps. At first glance, Apple appears to be chiefly concerned with its users’ experience — in that it’s only letting developers apply geo-locating tags if it improves the app itself. Apps designed for the sole purpose of targeted advertising are those most likely to be facing rejection, as so reads Apple’s direct warning to developers:
“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.”
As for how detrimental this will be for marketers, only time will tell, although early indicators make the announcement appear fairly benign.
Instead of trying to limit legitimate applications, Apple’s policy shift is likely to serve as the first defender against geo-targeted spam (for example, pop-up ads appearing in the middle of unrelated games). No consumers appreciate spam and geo-targeting spam is a tricky disruption which smart marketers should be steering clear of as a result. As geo-targeted apps are still fairly new to the scene, Apple is likely just laying down the first rules to govern the geo-space, ensuring that consumers continue to feel comfortable using geo-apps.
However, another possibility does exist – one that would stand to benefit Apple exclusively. Apple could also be setting the scene to dominate the geo-targeted ad space itself, which it would be poised to do with its recent acquisition of ad platform, Quattro Wireless. Combining user data collected through iTunes and the App store with geo-location technology would be quite a golden Apple opportunity.