Why Google is Right to Shut Down Ad Blocking Apps From Google Play

Why Google is Right to Shut Down Ad Blocking Apps From Google Play

Mar 14, 2013

For those who hate ads, Google is taking a hardline stance on ad blockers. As reported by Phandroid, Google has removed apps like AdBlock and AdFree based on provision 4.4 of the Play Store developer distribution agreement which states that ” You agree that you will not engage in any activity with the Market, including the development or distribution of Products, that interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorized manner the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third party…” which Google has apparently interpreted as meaning “don’t block ads.”

Now Phandroid makes a point about Google could do this if Android is open. Well, simple: the operating system is open. Their app store, not so much. Unlike on iOS, where if Apple doesn’t like an app then they shut it down, the app can still work and be distributed outside the store, but Google has every right to shut down apps that disapprove of. They actually have a moral advantage, that they allow virtually any app to work on the OS, that when they shut someone down, it’s killing them entirely, as with Apple. So it’s possible to say that Android is still open even if Google shuts down a category of app.

And in this case, shutting down ad blockers is necessary for Google, for a very simple reason: they make a lot of revenue off of ads. Developers can display Google ads in their apps. So Google wouldn’t want to be promoting a class of app that could harm their business model. Much like anything else with Android, they can’t stop ad blockers entirely, but they can make it harder for them to spread, and it’s hard to begrudge them for doing so. Want to block ads? Don’t expect the ease of Google’s store to do so. Adblock Plus can be directly installed from their website, for example.

Of course, AdBlock Plus still exists on the Chrome Web Store on desktop, so Google hasn’t exactly shut every avenue off yet, but considering that store is not an immediately apparent money-maker, they may not see the need to. Yet.

Plus, as a reminder: free content on the internet is powered by ads. This website is fueled by ads. Internet ads can be annoying, and I cop to using AdBlock Plus on the desktop Chrome, but I disable it for sites that I frequent, and I suggest you do the same. The people that create the content you love need to eat!