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Google Begins Banishing Ad-Blocking Apps for Google Play

org.adaway[1]For a long time now Google has tried to balance their interest in making money vs what users want. Sadly, in the past couple days that balance has tipped firmly in favor of Google’s pocketbook.

Reports are coming in from all over that Google is now removing all existing ad-blocking utility apps from their app store. According to Google, these apps violate certain parts of the developer agreement that any Android dev has to agree to before submitting the app to Google Play.  Even though the apps aren’t performing any new tasks that they weren’t doing last week, Google now say that they are interfering "with another service or product in an unauthorized manner":

4.4 Prohibited Actions. You agree that you will not engage in any activity with the Market, including the development or distribution of Products that interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorized manner the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third party including, but not limited to, Android users, Google or any mobile network operator. You may not use customer information obtained from the Market to sell or distribute products outside of the Market.

Chrome-Ad-Blocker[1]Some of these apps have been in Google Play for years, while others (like the AdBlock Plus app I reviewed back in November) have only been available for a few months. Several now appear to have been removed from Google Play, including AdAway, Adfree, and more.

As annoying as this is, it’s not a serious loss. Many of these ad blocking apps are available from the developer’s websites, so it should not be too hard to replace the app that Google removed from Google Play with a different version. But one thing that does worry me is Google’s next step. If they are removing ad-blockers now what’s to stop Google from updating Android OS so the ad-blockers stop working?

Okay, that’s not such a serious issue for owners of current and older devices, but I still worry. Many older Android smartphones and tablets are never updated, but as we replace our old gadgets with new ones I think it will be an issue.

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fjtorres March 14, 2013 um 10:55 am

A nice way to make the alternative app stores like 1Mobile, Amazon, etc, relevant.
Also highlights the perils with lockdown.
Wouldn’t shock me if Android moves to an Apple-style lockdown, especially for phones.

Nate Hoffelder March 14, 2013 um 11:00 am

Heh. Amazon has already blocked this type of app from the KFHD.

fjtorres March 14, 2013 um 11:33 am

They do carry a couple ad-blocker apps on their store.
Just as they carry competing ebook apps they don’t show to Fire owners.
They’re perfectly happy to provide them to users of commpeting devices… 🙂
(Silly, but if that’s how they want to play it…)

Fbone March 14, 2013 um 12:51 pm

And then there are the websites that don’t function with blocking software activated. Amazon is one of them.

Nate Hoffelder March 14, 2013 um 1:01 pm

The Google Adsense dashboard won’t work if ads are blocked. Funny, but annoying.

Puzzled March 14, 2013 um 3:56 pm

I wonder if this, coupled with the Google Reader thingee, is a reflection of the internal first quarter projections not being very good, and Google trying to boost their numbers for the market.

fjtorres March 14, 2013 um 6:13 pm

The reader shutdown is part of a series of non-performing service shutdowns.
You can only throw so many darts at the wall before taking off the blindfold and pulling out the misses.

Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites) March 17, 2013 um 11:37 am

Well, Google Reader was always going to be a non-starter for revenue: what good is something that enables users to avoid most ads for an ad-based company?

Nate Hoffelder March 17, 2013 um 11:39 am

Except Google could have inserted their own ads. That would have generated revenue.

Paul March 18, 2013 um 2:57 pm

Or they could have turned it into a paid service, which wouldn’t have been that hard to do.

Maxthon Updates Windows, Android Web Browsers With Bundled Adblock Plus ⋆ Ink, Bits, & Pixels February 10, 2015 um 2:28 pm

[…] I was working on this post I was reminded that in early 2013 Google purged ad-blocking apps from Google Play. Many apps, including Adblock Plus, were removed from Google Play, and a check […]

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