Apple is expected to announce soon that it has purchased Quattro Wireless for $275 million, according to a report by AllThingsD. Quattro has a mobile ad network and platform that lets advertisers target mobile users with ads.
The report said several sources had confirmed the announcement but that Apple has declined comment. The move would increase the stakes in the mobile ad business, since it would be a kind of counter to Google’s $750 million acquisition of AdMob, which competes with Quattro.
The announcement could come as soon as tomorrow, according to the report. Waltham, Mass.-based Quattro is focused on ads for smartphones such as Google’s Android devices and Apple’s iPhone. The company has raised almost $30 million from Highland Capital Partners and Globespan Capital Partners. Its clients include Ford, Disney, and the National Football League.
The news comes on the eve of Google’s new big move against Apple: the launch of the Google-designed Nexus One smartphone.
This would be a major departure by Apple from its traditional focus on producing excellent hardware devices, as well as software that serves those devices. But the move also comes at a time when the mobile industry is seeing massive growth, now that people are furiously buying up smartphones and spending much more time with them. These phones surf the mobile web much more efficiently, and so advertisers are eager to get in front of mobile users.
The move may suggest that Apple sees it as imperative to be a player itself in the ad industry. Google’s Android operating system has emerged as one of Apple’s most aggressive competitors in the mobile phone industry. And with Google now enjoying what looks to be a huge lead in mobile advertising (Admob is considered the industry leader in mobile ads), this could be prudent defensive move by Apple.
Also, Apple had reportedly made a bid to acquire AdMob before it was acquired by Google.