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Steve Jobs admits Apple tried to buy AdMob, warns of porn on Android


During a question-and-answer session following Thursday's iPhone OS 4.0 preview, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs admitted that Apple tried to buy AdMob before Google "snatched" them, and also cited a pornography store for the Android operating system as a reason why unsigned apps are not allowed on the iPhone.

Jobs specifically said that his company "tried" to buy AdMob to no avail. That confirms numerous reports that claimed Apple and AdMob were in talks before Google acquired the mobile advertising firm for $750 million. Jobs characterized Google's acquisition by saying the search giant "snatched" AdMob away from Apple.

A recent report from The New York Times profiling the rivalry between Apple and Google said that the search engine willingly overpaid for AdMob just to keep the company away from Apple. Soon after the deal between Google and AdMob was struck, Apple responded by acquiring competing mobile ad firm Quattro Wireless.

That purchase of Quattro paved the way for Apple to announce iAd on Thursday, a new full-featured advertising service that allows interactive content within iPhone applications without launching a browser.

Also during Thursday's Q&A session, Jobs was asked if Apple has any intention of allowing unsigned applications to run in the iPhone OS. Currently, all third-party software must be approved by Apple for sale on the App Store.

Jobs responded to Ryan Block of gdgt by noting that there is a "porn store" for Google's Android mobile operating system, Apple's chief competitor in the mobile device and application space. "You can download it, your kids can download it," the CEO said. "That's a place we don't want to go, so we're not going to."

Other notes of interest from the Q&A session, which also featured senior vice presidents Scott Forstall, iPhone software, and Phil Schiller, worldwide product marketing:

  • Jobs said he does not believe that multitasking will lead to increased data usage. He said that streaming applications like Pandora just don't use that much in the way of data.
  • The iPad is still on track for an international launch in late April.
  • The iAds service will have some boundaries, and there will be some advertisements that will not be allowed.
  • Jobs answered succinctly when asked if Apple had changed its position on Adobe Flash or Java: "No."
  • Forstall said Apple believes that push notifications are the best way of handling applications for IM and Twitter.
  • When asked if widgets could be coming to the iPad, Jobs said that "anything is possible."
  • Features like multitasking are not available on earlier devices because the hardware simply couldn't support it. Older hardware will still get the upgrade, but it will be lacking features like multitasking, which was only announced for the iPhone 3GS (summer), third-gen iPod touch (summer), and iPad (this fall).