Apple's next mobile operating system, iOS 9, will feature ad-blocking software that could pose a number of problems for advertising companies such as Google.
iOS 9 is due out next month and will be featured in the next iPhones, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Users will be able to install apps that prevent ads from showing in Apple's Safari Internet browser.
Allowing the hundreds of millions of iPhone users to have such easy access to ad-blocking software could significantly disrupt the online advertising business, which is currently worth $70 billion. Online advertisers are hoping to push this through mobile advertising. If fewer users see those ads, however, less money will be generated.
Of course, it's hard not to see the move as a strike against Google, one of Apple's biggest competitors. Google makes more money from online advertising that any other company.
Not only will the move cause users to be able to use ad blockers on their devices, but it could also signal the start of a huge wave of ad-blocking use in other devices. Once a user knows that ad blockers exist, they are more likely to seek one out for use on their computers as well. Arguably, however, using ad blockers on a smartphone is of more benefit than on a computer because of the fact that smartphones have smaller screens and even small ads can greatly increase the clutter.
The Apple audience is a particularly lucrative one for mobile advertisers, with those who buy iPhones spending more money on their smartphones than those who buy Android devices.
It's important to mention that ad blockers are nothing new. They have been available on desktop browsers for a number of years now and have gained a loyal, yet rather small following of around six percent of global Internet users. Apple even allows ad blockers on its Safari Web browser for PC. Apple itself doesn't release ad-blocking software, instead allowing developers to create software that can work as an add-on to Internet browsers. Having to take the steps to install add-ons, however, can deter some users from installing ad blockers.
Importantly enough, Apple says that it will not allow ad blockers to block ads within apps, largely because of the fact that ads don't have as big of an impact on performance in apps as they do within a browser. Of course, if Apple were to block ads within apps, it's likely that many developers creating apps for Apple devices would stop.