In November last year, Google agreed to buy mobile marketing specialist AdMob for $750 million, but the deal has not yet closed. Considering how many different markets Google has its toes in, no one was surprised in December when consumer advocacy groups asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to look at the proposed deal a little closer and consider blocking it.
Consumer Watchdog and Center for Digital Democracy were concerned more about the impact the deal would have on consumers' ability to protect their privacy than the possible antitrust implications of the acquisition. At the time, they said:
Both AdMob and Google gather tremendous amounts of data about consumers' online behavior, including in the key mobile sector...U.S. consumers currently do not have meaningful safeguards protecting their privacy online, including with behavioral targeting. This is particularly true of the mobile Web, where there are no meaningful federal policies to effectively protect privacy.
In March of this year, when the FTC began asking Google competitors to put things they had previously told the regulator about the pending deal into sworn statements, observers noted the "development" probably didn't bode well for Google.
Now, Google CEO Eric Schmidt is expecting a final decision on the acquisition soon. And if the FTC chooses to block the deal? Reuters quotes Schmidt this way:
We're likely to fight very hard. It's a very strategic acquisition.
As always, Google will be fascinating to watch.