Developer pulls ad-blocker after topping App Store

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Marco Arment just wasn't at Peace with himself.
Photo: Sundaram Ramaswamy/Flickr CC

Developer Marco Arment pulled his iOS 9 content blocker from the App Store two days after launching it. He says it “just doesn’t feel good” to be profiting from his app Peace while taking money away from advertisers and publishers. He’s even offering refunds to anyone who already bought Peace expecting updates and support down the line, which they now won’t be getting.

“Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have,” Arment writes on his blog. “Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit.”

Over the past 36 hours, Peace was the number one paid app in the U.S. App Store. Arment said this is the most success he’s ever had with an iOS app. It’s that success that seems to have flicked a switch in his brain and he now recognizes he doesn’t want to build something that supports and enables ad blocking.

Plenty of other ad blockers are hitting the App Store right now. A new feature in iOS 9 called content blocking lets anyone with an app in this category to block certain websites or parts of websites in Safari, including advertisements. Content blockers also seem to validate Apple’s war on advertising and puts Google directly in Apple’s crosshairs, since Google makes most of its money through online advertising.

Apple’s defense is that removing ads and other types of content in Safari can provide a vastly improved mobile browsing experience for users who wish to do so. On top of just getting rid of flashy and screen-hogging advertisements, Safari can run much faster too.

Oddly enough, Marco Arment still supports the concept of ad blockers themselves, he just doesn’t want to be the one building them. He even links to two other iOS 9 content blockers in his blog post. It’s respectable that he didn’t want to continue working on a project he felt was immoral, but one might argue that pulling an app sold for only two days to a very loyal fanbase isn’t that reputable either.

“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,” Arment writes.

If you want a refund for the $2.99 app, you’ll have to request one through iTunes on your computer or iOS device.