Apple Tells iPhone App Developers to Stop Using Location Data For Advertising Purposes

Apple disallows location use for advertising

Advertisements targeted by location is one of the biggest plus points for mobile advertising. 

However, in a recent message on the iPhone developer blog, Apple has announced that iPhone apps that pull the users' location details primarily to serve targeted ads will no longer be approved. 

Apple writes

"If you build your application with features based on a user's location, make sure these features provide beneficial information. If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user's location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store."

Apple's message has raised a lot of important questions. Firstly, as folks at MocoNews point out, the definition of "beneficial" is very subjective and developers may well argue that location-targeted ads are in fact beneficial to the viewers. Secondly, it is not exactly clear if apps using location data for genuine purposes are allowed to use the same information for advertising as well. If that is the case, how will the benefit derived out of location data usage in the application be judged? This can lead to a lot of vague interpretations and many more frustrated app developers. 

Meanwhile, Marshall Kirkpatrick from ReadWriteWeb speculates if Apple's decision to disallow location targeted ads has got anything to do with the company's acquisition of mobile ad network Quattro Wireless. He says the decision could be due to the company's ambitions to use the iPhone platform for displaying location targeted ads from their own network.

Apple's message on the blog has been vague and is open to multiple interpretations. It is then pretty evident that the app developers shall not be happy with the new policy which adds one more layer of confusion to the existing gray area in Apple's App Store policies. 

What are your thoughts on this?

[via Apple Dev Blog, MocoNews, ReadWriteWeb]