Most web users tolerate ads; many web users hate advertising with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. There are many good reasons that users dislike ads (they’re bad for performance, security, and privacy) as well as less universal, more arguable, grievances (e.g. annoyance factor, disagreement about the value exchange for ad-funded services, etc).
Apple, a company that makes ~80%ish of their revenue from iOS-based products, recently announced that iOS 9 will ship with a compelling ad-filtering API for the Safari browser.
In what is surely a huge coincidence, Apple and iOS’s only significant competitor makes ~90%ish of its revenue from advertising.
If you thought that websites’ “Install our app” prompts were annoying before, imagine what’s going to happen when the only way to reliably show ads is via a native app? That “No thanks” link is probably not going to be there, especially when the site detects your ad-blocker (scroll to “Evaluation of Blocking Mechanisms“).
- Websites (temporarily) load ~40% faster on iOS? Apple/users win.
- Websites forced to build native apps to get paid? Apple wins.
- News sites forced to move to the Apple News app to get paid? Apple wins.
- Google revenue inexorably forced downward? Apple wins.
- Ad-funded sites that can’t afford to build a native app? Collateral damage.
- The open web? Collateral damage.
It’s an utterly brilliant plan.
In the Microsoft anti-trust case, Microsoft was infamously accused of a trying to “cut off Netscape’s air-supply.” This summer, Apple will be quietly putting its hand on Google’s money-spigot.
It’s far from clear how it will end, but collateral damage seems inevitable.
Update: My responses to reactions to this post.