Microsoft caused no end of a ruckus when they announced in 2012 that the then next version of Internet Explorer would ship with the do-not-track privacy flag enabled by default, and the recent Asus announcement could cause an even bigger shouting match.
Last week Eyeo, the company behind the AdBlock Plus browser extension, announced that it had inked a deal with Asus to include the extension in the stock web browser which ships on Asus smartphones and tablets.
Starting some time in the next year, the Asus Browser will ship with AdBlock Plus automatically baked in and enabled by default. The browser is installed on 15 million smartphones (according to Asus), and once deployed the users will have to actively choose to forgo the following benefits of blocking adverts:
- faster page loading speed,
- increased privacy and safety,
- a better user experience, and
- lower mobile bandwidth costs.
Or at least some users will have to choose to opt-out. According to the press release I have, Asus device users in China, Germany, Austria, and France will have to choose to opt-in.
Along with Maxthon and the AdBlock Plus browser, the Asus Browser is at least the third web browser to integrate this ad-blocking extension by default. Eyeo co-founder and CEO Till Faida is thrilled to have a new partner, saying in a release that "We’re extremely happy to team up with Asus, the first major hardware manufacturer to integrate ad blocking into their mobile devices. This is another call for innovation in the ad industry – a call getting louder by the day."
The Asus Browser is currently only available on Asus devices, but the company says it will soon be released in Google Play where it will be available for other Android devices.
Shocking news, isn't it?
No, not really. This feels more like a small-time smartphone maker pulling a stunt to get free publicity than the beginning of a trend or the point of a wedge.
Based on the estimates published by IDC, over a billion smartphones were shipped this year, so fifteen million users (assuming the number is valid) is only a drop in the bucket, and that figure shrinks even more when recall that users in China and Europe (two major markets) will have to opt-in. As a result the actual impact here will be far less than the potential impact of iOS9's content blocking abilities.
Someone let me know when one of the top five smartphone makers decided to block adverts by default; now that would be newsworthy.
image by Martin Lopatka