Apr 9, 2013

Google tosses ad blockers from Google Play

Bad news, Android users. Google has decided it’s time to crack down on all the ad-blocking apps in Google Play. Officially, the developers of apps that have gotten the boot are being told that they have violated section 4.4 of the Play Store developer agreement. Ad blockers “interfere with” and “disrupt” “properties and services” of third parties. In other words, they mess with the way other apps function — and that’s a no-no, says Google.

It’s certainly possible that Google has been taking heat from high-profile app developers who are getting tired of seeing charts that show the profitability of their Android apps lagging way behind their iOS counterparts. But it’s impossible to ignore Google’s own vested interest in kicking out ad-blockers. At its core, Google is an advertising company. The very ads that these apps are blocking are Google’s lifeblood, and they’re the main reason the company is willing to give away Android for free. Every Android device sold increases Google’s analytics and advertising reach a little bit more.

Android’s open nature means that you’ll always be able to find an ad blocker somewhere. You won’t find them lining the shelves of Google’s own Play store, but as long as you’re comfortable installing apps from unofficial sources (and you probably are if you were using root-only versions of apps like AdBlock Plus) you’ll never be totally out of luck. Unless, of course, Google decides to backtrack on non-Play app installs and sideloading at some point in the future.

The app cull happened the same day that Andy Rubin stepped down as Android chief at Google. If Sundar Pichai, who has taken up the Android reins and also heads up Chrome, had anything to do with the crackdown, you wonder how long it will be before Chrome’s most popular extension (AdBlock) disappears as well.


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