Apple has never allowed ad-blocking software on the iPhone or iPad. This is one among many reasons that I ditched both. Not because I hate ads all that passionately, but because it’s an example of the obsessive corporate control Apple maintains over its environment. But it’s my iPad, dammit. If I want a different virtual keyboard, why can’t I get one? If I want access to a file, why does Apple forbid it? If I want ad-blocking software, why should Apple be allowed to stop me?
Apple is still a serial offender on this front, but apparently they’ve decided to relent on ad-blocking software. As usual, though, there appears to be a deeper story here:
The next version of Apple’s mobile-operating system, due out as early as next month, will let users install apps that prevent ads from appearing in its Safari browser.
….Apple says it won’t allow ad blocking within apps, because ads inside apps don’t compromise performance as they do on the browser. That distinction serves Apple’s interests. It takes a 30% cut on money generated from apps, and has a business serving ads inside apps. What’s more, iOS 9 will include an Apple News app, which will host articles from major news publishers. Apple may receive a share of the revenue from ads that accompany those articles.
The basic lay of the land here—assuming the Wall Street Journal has this right—is that Apple’s move is aimed at Google, which makes most of its revenue from browser ads. Conversely, it doesn’t hurt companies like Facebook much, since they have dedicated apps. In the big picture, this motivates more and more companies to build Apple-specific apps, since those will become more lucrative over time. And it helps Apple’s bottom line since it gets a cut of the revenue. Plus it annoys Google.
So here’s the lesson: Apple is happy to allow users more control over their devices as long as it also happens to benefit Apple. If it doesn’t, then tough.
This is why I generally loathe Apple. Obviously all companies are run in their own self-interest, but Apple carries this to absurd lengths. Say what you will about Microsoft, but they’ve never pulled this kind of crap on their customers. If I buy a Windows machine, I can do pretty much anything I want to it.
Needless to say, lots and lots of people couldn’t care less about this, and Apple has made a ton of money catering to them. But I care. Whether it’s because Steve Jobs insisted on the one perfect way of using a computer, or because Apple’s accountants want to limit customers’ choices in order to maximize corporate revenue, Apple has never cared much about allowing me to choose how I prefer to use a computer. That’s not thinking different. It’s how IBM operated half a century ago. And it sucks.