The iPhone ad-blocking wars have their first conscientious objector: The creator of the most popular ad-blocking app.
Marco Arment, co-founder of Tumblr and creator of Instapaper, just announced that he was pulling his popular ad-blocking app, Peace, from Apple’s app store.
Peace became an instant success after its launch, capitalizing on a new iOS 9 feature that allowed advertisements (or other content) to be blocked on the built-in Safari web browser. The app cost $2.99 and was purchased 12,000 times in its first several hours.
In today’s post, Arment explains that he “just doesn’t feel good” about running a hugely popular ad blocker, one that could potentially prevent publishers from making money on their content. One problem Arment cites is that the ad-blocking directory he was using, Ghostery, doesn’t distinguish between “good” ads that don’t slow down the mobile web, and “bad” ones that do. Preventing others from getting paid—while making a healthy profit himself—didn’t sit well with Arment.
Quartz’s Dan Frommer wrote yesterday about why people are downloading ad-blocking apps:
It’s easy to see why these tools could become popular. Bad ads are more noticeable and obnoxious on mobile, where bandwidth is already constrained, screens are small, and users often pay for internet access on a metered basis. An inexpensive, one-time ad-blocker purchase that increases privacy, makes the web faster, and prevents wasting money on bandwidth to load bloated ads sounds like an attractive proposition, whether it’s ethical or not.
Arment’s move isn’t likely to slow down any broader movement—if one materializes. Several other ad blockers remain atop the charts, including Crystal, which is currently the no. 1 top paid app in the US App Store.