Apple has bought mobile advertising company Quattro Wireless as cellphone competition heats up between the maker of the iPhone and Internet giant Google.
Quattro Wireless announced its acquisition by Apple on its website on Tuesday but did not reveal a purchase price. The Dow Jones-owned technology blog All Things Digital said it was 275 million US dollars.
The acquisition comes two months after Google bought Quattro Wireless rival AdMob for 750 million US dollars and on the same day that Google threw down the gauntlet to Apple by unveiling plans to sell its own smartphone, the Nexus One.
Google took the wraps off the eagerly anticipated Nexus One at an event at its Mountain View, California, headquarters billing the HTC-built touchscreen device which runs on Google’s Android software as a "superphone."
Quattro Wireless chief executive Andy Miller, using his new title of Apple vice president for mobile advertising, announced the purchase of the company he co-founded in a blog post.
"We are thrilled to let you know that Apple has acquired Quattro," Miller said. "We remain focused on delivering more engaging, relevant and useful ads to mobile devices, and improving the measurement and execution of digital campaigns.
"Together with Apple, we look forward to developing exciting new opportunities in the future that will benefit our customers," he said.
Quattro describes itself as the "leading global mobile advertising company" and its clients include Ford, Procter & Gamble, NetFlix, Viacom, Disney, Visa and Microsoft.
Google’s purchase of AdMob is currently being examined by the US Federal Trade Commission, and two consumer groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and Consumer Watchdog, have urged the FTC to oppose the deal on anti-trust grounds.
Google, which has previously drawn scrutiny from US anti-trust regulators, hopes AdMob will help it more effectively extend its lucrative Internet search and advertising domain into the booming world of mobile devices.
Commenting on Apple’s Quattro purchase, analyst Douglas McIntyre of 247WallSt.com said Apple and Google are competing for "what many analysts believe is the next big frontier of online ad sales."
"The risk that both Apple and Google are taking is that people will react to advertising on their handsets in much the same way that they have reacted to PC-based online ads," McIntyre said.
"It may be that people who pay to subscribe to wireless services will create a backlash against handset-based marketing when they realize that they are being forced to view advertising," he said.
"The outcome of the wireless advertising war will determine, to a large extent, the growth rate of Internet advertising over the next several years," McIntyre added. "From that standpoint, Apple and Google are making relatively risk-free bets on the market, given their sizes and cash resources."
The Apple and Google moves came as representatives of leading electronics firms from around the world gathered in Las Vegas for the annual International Consumer Electronics Show which opens on Thursday.