What to Make of Apple's iAd

What should we make of the Quattro-based iAd platform announced yesterday? There's been tons of commentary already about what this means for developers, for Google, for other ad networks, the ecosystem and for Apple. With Quattro and iAd, Apple now has an ad network that will compete with the various existing ad networks and exchanges serving the iPhone OS for developer adoption and loyalty. 

Apple will sell and host ads and keep 40% of the revenue. That is sure to be an area of third party competition: "developers, keep more ad revenue." 

But is this move about developer allegiance to the iPhone OS? Is it about maintaining free apps on the iPhone? Is it about competing with Google? Is it about "changing the quality of mobile advertising?" Or . . . all of the above?

Jobs spoke about combining the "emotion" of TV with the interactivity of online advertising:

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Jobs thinks that Apple can genuinely raise the bar on mobile ad creative, combining TV-like rich media and video with interactive and transactional elements associated with digital. 

All the mobile ad network competitors that posted about iAd's launch and its implications seemed have a near-uniform message: this validates the potential of mobile advertising, we're delivering tremendous value to advertisers already and there are a bunch of unasnwered questions here. 

I don't believe that Apple will unduly favor iAd over third party networks, although it's built into the OS -- an advantage that others don't share. If Apple were to use its leverage to bias developers that might represent an anti-trust issue.

I do believe the platform is built into OS 4 in an effort to make the user-experience of advertising on mobile devices better and more "app like." Indeed, Jobs showed ads during the keynote that looked and operated like apps, though they were launched from conventional mobile banners at the bottom of the screen. 

Apple's iAd, I believe, should help promote and encourage better ad creative for mobile, although there's some great work already being done. It will force competitors to "up their game." And it may thus actually help make mobile display advertising a more exciting place to play than online.