Google has just made the controversial move to remove Adblock Plus and other advert blocking apps from the Android Play Store. This has been done on the grounds that these apps breach Google’s T&Cs, stating: “interference with another service or product in an unauthorized manner”. Has Google gone too far, breaking it’s Don’t be evil mantra? Or is this a reasonable move? After all, Google does need a fair revenue flow to maintain its current products.
The difference between Android and iOS has always been clear – the former historically allowing anything to be installed as long as it wasn’t malicious; with Apples operating system on the other hand, thriving on a closed ecosystem that’s dependant on complete control. Have Apple been right all along?
The reason behind the decision was probably simply down to money. The development of Google’s products costs a lot, not to mention splashing cash on fun and risky projects like funding the purchase of drones to monitor rhino poaching. What other revenue streams does Google have? Gathering raw data on user’s habits and browsing patterns is no doubt worth something to someone somewhere, but that isn’t going to provide enough money to run the largest search engine.
The collateral damage from this decision will have been carefully calculated, some users might jump ship but most won’t worry or even be aware that blocking adverts was possible.
A more worrying thought is that this move might be the first step in removing advert blocking software from all of Google’s products, most importantly Chrome. Google is a corporation, and just like any other they require revenue. If these functions are removed from Chrome then many users will feel betrayed, and unlike mobile operating systems, browsers and much easier to change.
As a company, Google relies on a friendly and ‘local’ public perception, bad publicity and people waking up to the fact that Google is an international organisation that solely exists to make money can’t be good for business. A delicate balancing act is unfolding in front of your eyes. On the one hand you have Google’s masking of their corporate nature and on the other you have the amount of money entering stake holder’s pockets. Both are closely related, the more one is increased the more the other feels pain.
Don’t be evil might have just left the building.