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iPhone users flock to use new adblock feature in iOS 9

September 17, 2015

itunes-adbock-apps

Adblockers have topped iTunes’ paid apps chart worldwide in the hours since the Wednesday, September 16, release of iOS 9. Apple’s latest mobile operating system finally enables content blocking in Safari, the built-in web browser on the iPhone and iPad.

On the North American chart Thursday morning, two adblockers were in the top ten: Purify ($4.95), which was at number 4 overnight but dropped to number 7, and Peace ($3.49) which, at the writing of this post, still holds the number 1 spot overall.

On the UK iTunes chart, according to the Guardian newspaper, Thursday morning, Purify was at number 11 and Peace at number 12.

Update: Peace adblocker pulled from the App Store by its author.

Both apps stress that they block advertising and tracking and thus significantly cut down data downloads and dramatically speed up browsing.

What about that OS owned by world’s biggest web advertiser?

Beyond the confines of Apple’s walled garden — in the nearly lawless frontier that is Google’s Android operating system, there are no paid adblocking apps in sight.

A search of “adblock” or “ad block” on the Google Play store finds four free apps that block ads but none of them are the number one adblocker on the desktop, namely Eyeo GmbH’s Adblock Plus. That’s because Google, which makes about 95 percent of all its income from web advertising, made a special point of effectively banning Adblock Plus from the Google Play app store back in 2013, citing “security” concerns.

It’s no surprise that Google has put the boot to Adblock Plus where it can, because outside of the Android operating system, the boot is definitely on the other foot.

On the desktop, there are at least 144 million active adblock users, according to PageFair, and a majority are using Adblock Plus.

Major web advertisers including Microsoft, Amazon, Taboola and Google are known to be paying many millions to Eyeo, the little German company behind  Adblock Plus, in order to be included on ADB+’s white list.

While Eyeo won’t reveal the dollar amount that it charges these companies not to block ads on their websites, it is believed to be “30% of the additional ad revenues” the companies make from the unblocked ads,, according to the Financial Times.

Eyeo’s business model of using it’s huge user base as a club to threaten big web advertisers unless they pay up has, not surprisingly, been compared to an extortion racket.

Eyeo laughs all the way to the bank at those charges.

So how do Android users block ads anyway?

To use Adblock Plus on an Android device, a user can set up proxy browsing or root their Android device,

Eyeo has a page about installing ABP+ in Android but strongly recommends that people just download the brand new Adblock Browser for Android — which surprisingly is available on the Google Play store and has Adblock Plus built in.

On the Android side, specialized browsers with built-in ad blocking seem to be the way to go. The UC Browser, (for phones) which includes ad blocking, is credited with over 100 million downloads (the fledgling ADB Browser 1.0.0 only has around 100,000 downloads so far) and the Ghostery Privacy Browser (also specifically for phones) has about 100 thousand downloads.

By the way, the Peace adblocking app for iOS 9 incorporates the Ghostery privacy functionality. Programmer Marco Arment explains on his blog that he was so impressed with the Ghostery desktop browser add-on that he arranged to include the Ghostery database of trackers in Peace under license. Click the image to enlarge it.

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