Report: Apple Buying Quattro

Massachusetts-based mobile ad network Quattro Wireless is reportedly being acquired by Apple for $275 million. AllThingsD has the exclusive — although it’s not so exclusive since I spoke to someone earlier tonight who was holding her story until she could get confirmation. Regardless here are the details per Kara Swisher:

The announcement might come as soon as tomorrow, upping the ante in the mobile advertising business significantly.

Waltham, Mass.-based Quattro has raised close to $30 million from two main venture investors–Highland Capital Partners and Globespan Capital Partners. Founded several years ago, its clients include Ford, Disney and the National Football League.

Quattro is clearly a “tier one” player in the mobile ad network segment.

Google previously announced the acquisition of AdMob for $750 million in stock, which is now being scrutinized by the FTC. Apple is unlikely to face the same level of scrutiny however — and the $275 million looks like a steal by comparison (assuming that’s the price). The AdMob acquisition, which has been arguably the primary display ads network for the iPhone, could well have sparked Apple to make this move. 

There were rumors that Apple was also trying to buy AdMob but, obviously, was unsuccessful. 

It’s not clear to me whether, if true, the Apple-Quattro acquisition makes it easier or more difficult for Google with FTC approval. Apple isn’t in the advertising business (yet), while Google is. In other words, Apple isn’t buying a competitor, while some have argued that Google is with AdMob.

There will surely be more M&A in this segment and Apple might have figured that if it had waited it would loose a chance at one of the top-tier players. Millennial and JumpTap remain for the courting. There are other candidates as well: Mobclix comes to mind. 

As Apple relies increasingly on the iPhone/iPod touch as a major revenue stream. And as it’s poised to launch it’s long-anticipated tablet at the end of this month, Apple may feel that it needs its own monetization engine to support and nurture its developer ecosystem. But the acquisition of Quattro puts Apple in a new business as well — mobile advertising.