2010: The Year of M&A in Mobile Advertising

Apple (s aapl) is set to jump into mobile advertising in a big way, shelling out $275 million to buy Quattro Wireless, according to All Things Digital. Which is the latest signal that 2010 will be the year of consolidation for the space.

The reported move comes two months after the iPhone maker tried and failed to enter the mobile advertising market when it lost out in its bid to land AdMob, which instead agreed to be acquired by Google (s goog) for a whopping $750 million. Quattro is a relatively big player in mobile advertising, according to recent figures from IDC, claiming a 7 percent market share and generating roughly $21 million in 2009.

And while Cupertino has continued to generate impressive profits even as many competing phone makers are watching their margins be whittled away, it’s surely concerned about maintaining its own, as a host of impressive new devices come to market from competing vendors and smartphone prices continue to fall. So the company is scrambling to find new ways to monetize the mobile web and the surging uptake of wireless apps. The rise of in-app ads has led to a rapid expansion of the space since 2007, when AOL acquired Third Screen Media, Yahoo¬† (s yhoo) picked up Actionality, Microsoft (s msft) bought ScreenTonic and Nokia (s nok) acquired Enpocket.

Some deep-pocketed players are looking to increase their presence in mobile advertising this year, and the list of potential targets is a lengthy one. Millennial Media, which according to IDC boasts an 18 percent market share, tops the list; other possible pick-ups include JumpTap and the analytics firm Flurry. Expect another round of consolidation this year as mobile apps and the wireless web continue to evolve into mass-market industries.

Image courtesy of Quattro Wireless.