Late summer seems to ring in a fight between Apple and Facebook ahead of the iPhone maker’s fall update to its mobile operating system. Driving both to the mat this time: a change in iOS 14 that will ask users if they want their information shared with other apps for advertising purposes. Analysts expect most consumers to say no. The result, says Facebook, will severely cripple a part of its business that places ads in non-Facebook apps.
Discontent about the upcoming update has simmered for weeks, as Tom and Alex noted earlier this month. On Wednesday, Facebook took the fight to the next level, publishing a blog post that warned it could stop its ad service for other apps, called Audience Network, altogether on iOS 14.
If Facebook makes good on this threat, such an outcome could be more disruptive to other companies that rely on Facebook ads—gaming companies and media publishers, for instance—than to Facebook itself. The business generates only about $3 billion a year for Facebook, a sliver of the $70 billion Facebook makes from advertising in its own apps.
The fight over iOS updates echoes last year’s scrap, when we reported Apple’s iOS 13 would restrict a feature used by Facebook Messenger, part of a broader iOS change that included pop-up alerts about the data used by apps running in the background on iPhones. Facebook seemed worried enough to publish a blog post explaining what it does with location data.
That clash blew over, but there’s a chance things play out differently this time. Apple says the iOS 14 change is intended to give people more control over the information they share with advertisers. Companies like Facebook see it as something else: an attack on their business model.– Laura Mandaro
Onto the news...