“Did you download an ad-blocking app? Good luck buying stuff online,” Dan Primack reports for Fortune. “When Apple last week released a new operating system that permits ad-blocking extensions, all sorts of media publishers protested. But a much larger outcry may soon some from retailers and those who use their iPhones to make online purchases.”
“A Fortune investigation shows that an iPhone enabled with Crystal — the top paid iOS app right now – is unable to fully render the e-commerce sites of many major retailers, including Walmart, Sears and Lululemon,” Primack reports. “The issue was first brought to our attention by Chris Mason, CEO of Branding Brand, a Pittsburgh-based company whose platform powers mobile commerce sites and apps. ‘This upcoming holiday season… content-blockers are going to cause a lot of problems,’ Mason says. ‘First, the experience for customers will be lessened. Lots of sites will be missing content, have broken links or customers won’t be able to add certain items to their shopping carts. They’ll probably just think the site is broken, but it’s really their content blocker. Second, retailers will be data-blind, or at least data-dark. It will really impact their ability to make quick judgments.'”
For example, here is what happens when we went to Sears.com on mobile Safari without Crystal:
Now here is what happens when we went to Sears.com with Crystal:
“Even if only a small number of people so far have downloaded ad-blockers, there are two trends worth remembering: (1) The percentage of e-commerce being done on mobile is increasing; and (2) A disproportionate percentage of mobile purchases are made via iPhones rather than Android devices (which have allowed for ad-blocking apps for quite some time),” Primack reports. “As for Crystal specifically, creator Dean Murphy said last night that he can remove select e-commerce sites from his app’s “blacklist,” and that he’d look into some of the examples we provided (four or five retailers already had contacted Murphy on their own, as of last night). In fact, several hours after we spoke, the Sears.com homepage was rendering properly with Crystal enabled, although we were unable to click through to many items. We also told Murphy about the Walmart shopping cart issue, and are now experiencing a similar problem as with Sears (i.e., product pages not loading at all). In short, these fixes seem to be tricky and ad hoc.”
Read more, and see the screenshots, in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: The solution is simple:
Apple should require all content-blockers to offer the ability to whitelist sites that users desire to exempt from content-blocking. Crude, brute-force, all-or-nothing content-blockers should be banned from the App Store.
This should have been obvious to Apple or anyone who gave the idea of content-blockers even a few seconds of thought, but, inexplicably, Apple seems to have overlooked this issue.
Part of iOS’s attractiveness to developers, accessory makers, auto manufacturers, airlines, retailers, etc. is that iOS users have disposable income and the proven will to spend it. This is why the best apps still come first to iOS despite having 13.9% market share worldwide vs. Android’s 82.8% (IDC, August 2015). Anything that conflicts with that diminishes the attractiveness of the platform. Without requiring content-blockers to offer the ability to whitelist sites, Apple is shooting itself in the foot.
If you’ve found a good iOS content-blocker that offers effective whitelisting controls, let us know about it below!
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