Google vs. Apple: The acquisition showdown

Apple and Google have both picked up multiple smaller companies in recent years, and even some larger ones like Motorola(s mmi), and both can afford to grab more. It can be hard to keep straight who bought what when, but this graphic should set things straight.

Apple Shutting Down Quattro Wireless Ad Service

In a move that’s not a complete surprise, Apple is shutting down the Quattro Wireless mobile ad network it acquired earlier this year. Apple won’t accept new ad campaigns via Quattro will start phasing out existing campaigns. Instead, it will focus solely on its iAd service.

Media-related Venture Activity Is in Bloom in NYC

New York is the capital of media, advertising, and finance, but historically Silicon Valley and Boston have overshadowed New York’s efforts to encourage and fund technology entrepreneurs. In the past two years, this has changed, especially when it comes to media-related ventures.

The New Subsidy

It didn’t really surprise me in December when I learned that Google was buying AdMob, the leading mobile advertising platform. I was surprised, however, to learn that Apple had been in the discussions and possibly even lost a competitive bidding process. Why? Apple doesn’t make many acquisitions, and when it does, they tend to be about core technologies or engineering teams. Plus, Apple’s primary business model is hardware sales, so an ad platform didn’t make much sense.

The first week of the new year brought definitive word that Apple has purchased Quattro Wireless, a competing platform, for what has been reported to be in the $300 million range. The rumor that Apple was interested in AdMob seems far more likely now. But the two factors that made me question Apple’s interest in AdMod remain relevant to the Quattro deal.

There are at least three possible reasons Apple might buy a mobile advertising company. First, mobile advertising is clearly a growing business, particularly on devices like the iPhone. Second, because Apple owns the iPhone and controls the app distribution process, it might make sense to build ad delivery capability right into the iPhone SDK and iTunes App Store, as a premium or value-added service to developers. Include the right code in your app, ads will be automatically embedded, and you’ll make 70 percent of all ad revenue just like you do from app sales. With app sales, in-app purchasing, and advertising, Apple can now offer a 360-degree mobile app monetization solution. Third, mobile analytics can provide tremendous insights to Apple and its developer community about usage data, trends, and demographics.

There are two other possibilities that are perhaps less obvious, but far more interesting. One relates to a new device, the other to a competitive threat. Read More about The New Subsidy

Rumor Has It: Apple Looking to Acquire AdMob Competitor

The Google/Apple war appears to be in the arms race stage at the moment, with the Nexus One set to be unveiled today as the latest weapon in the Google (s goog) arsenal. Apple (s aapl), for its part, appears to be momentarily playing catch-up, with plans to acquire another mobile advertising company now that Google is in the process of snatching up AdMob.

Quattro Wireless is the advertising company in question, and while it is much smaller than AdMob, which is by far the industry heavyweight in the mobile space, it will allow Apple to stay in competition with Google in this increasingly lucrative market. Read More about Rumor Has It: Apple Looking to Acquire AdMob Competitor