Most Popular Ad Blocker Pulled from iOS App Store
Ad blockers have stormed the iPhone. With Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 9, users can now download apps that block ads and trackers in Safari, allowing iPhones to run faster without those pesky ads. And, oh yes, users are definitely interested.
The iOS 9 update went live Wednesday. By Thursday, three of the five top paid apps in the Apple App Store were ad blockers. But one developer, Marco Arment, whose ad-blocking app Peace catapulted to the top of the App Store, is having second thoughts. After Peace spent 36 hours in the top slot, Arment decided to pull his app today.
“I’ve learned over the last few crazy days that I don’t feel good making one and being the arbiter of what’s blocked,” Arment writes in a blog post about his decision. “Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit.”
Too Blunt An Instrument
Ad blockers have become the latest nemesis of the media industry. While desktop ad-blocking has been around for a while, the number of people choosing to block ads on mobile has continued to grow—especially now that Apple has made the option available on iOS. Publishers, dependent on ads to pay for their content, worry that ad-blocking will only become more pervasive as it becomes more readily available.
The problem for publishers is that ads today suck. They can disrupt the reading experience. They can slow down your browser. They can track you without your express consent. Arment says that he still believes that ad blockers are needed today, but doesn’t want to be a part of the war between publishers, advertisers, and blockers.
“Peace required that all ads be treated the same—all-or-nothing enforcement for decisions that aren’t black and white,” Arment writes. “This approach is too blunt, and Ghostery and I have both decided that it doesn’t serve our goals or beliefs well enough. If we’re going to effect positive change overall, a more nuanced, complex approach is required than what I can bring in a simple iOS app.”
Arment is offering a refund to anyone who downloaded Peace.