Developer Marco Arment has announced he will be pulling his popular ad-blocker app Peace from the App Store, citing a crisis of conscience. As of this morning, Peace was the most popular paid app on iOS — but the rush to block mobile ads had drawn significant criticism from writers and publishers (including our own Nilay Patel) who depend on ad revenue to survive.
"Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate," Arment wrote in a post explaining the shift. "I know pulling Peace from the store after just two days is going to be an immensely unpopular move, and subject me to a torrent of unpleasantness. But that’ll end soon enough, and that’s better than how I’d feel if I kept going." Users who have already downloaded the app can continue to use it, but Arment will not update or maintain it, and has offered a refund to anyone who purchased the app since its launch earlier this week.
"Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good"
Peace was just one of a series of apps exploiting iOS 9's new options for content-blocking within Safari. Under the new operating system, apps are able to blacklist specific domains within a user's phone, allowing for mobile versions of the same ad blockers that flourish in desktop browsers. Users have reported significantly faster load times with the apps, making them popular in spite of any moral objections.
Arment had previously defended the ethics of ad-blocking, comparing intrusive mobile ads to pop-up ad banners in the days of the early web. In today's post, he reiterated that point, saying that while he believes in the broader fight against intrusive ads, he no longer sees apps like Peace as the best way to get there. "This approach is too blunt, and Ghostery and I have both decided that it doesn’t serve our goals or beliefs well enough," Arment wrote. "If we’re going to effect positive change overall, a more nuanced, complex approach is required than what I can bring in a simple iOS app."