App Developers Surprised as Ad Blockers Axed on Google Play

March 1, 2016 - 2 minutes read

Google Play

It’s no secret to Android app developers that Google has a stake in the ad industry. Still, the tech company’s move to pull ad-blocking apps from the Google Play store this month still ruffled some feathers as consumer demand for ad-blocking capability has driven development of native browser support in the Samsung Internet Browser, Apple’s Safari browser, and others. Included in those banned is Adblock Fast, formerly a top app in the productivity category on Google Play.

Android app developers at companies like Adblock Fast have been left scratching their heads as to how to proceed. The overall sentiment seems to be surprise, since ad-blocking apps aren’t exactly new to the ecosystem. (Not to mention that Adblock Plus only works with the Samsung Browser.)

It seems likely that Google is reacting in part to Samsung’s move to launch a content blocker extension API, specifically encouraging third-party developers to build on and enhance ad-blocking capability for their users. Given that ad content and invisible trackers can dramatically slow down content on mobile (not to mention eat up precious data), it’s no surprise to Android app developers that browsers would begin to open their platforms for innovation.

Intriguingly, Google has shown no sign of blocking support for browsers with ad-blocking capability, even via extensions like Ghostery that users already implement on desktop. The lesson to be learned here for Android app developers may be that high-demand services that go against the grain of Google Play’s terms of use would be well-advised to pursue self-hosted distribution systems.

In a statement to TechCrunch, a Google spokesperson said that “While we don’t comment on specific apps, we can confirm that our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers.” Until such time as the company offers a comprehensive statement on the issue, it seems that NYC mobile app developers will have to toe the line on ad-blocking functionality — at least for the time being.

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