Google must know something that we don’t. Why else would they be SO open in their new move toward transparency as to allow for extensions on Chrome that, gulp, block the very lifeblood of their money printing operation? Well, considering the market share that Chrome currently has (around 40 million users) and the mindset of someone likely to use (or even know about) this extension the thought of this kind of ‘allowance’ is probably bigger than the reality.
In a manifesto-like e-mail message sent last month to all Google employees, Jonathan Rosenberg, a senior vice president for product management, told them to commit to greater transparency and open industry standards. Rather than hoard knowledge to exploit it, he wrote in “The Meaning of Open,” share it and watch Google and the entire Internet prosper.
The resulting openness is allowing for ad blockers as extensions but this decision did not happen without a Mountain View trip to the revenue mountaintop for advice.
Speaking at a conference on Dec. 11 in Mountain View, Calif., Linus Upson, engineering director at Google, said there were many discussions before allowing ad-blocking programs “because Google makes all of its money from advertising.”
But he explained that the prevailing thinking was that “it’s unlikely ad blockers are going to get to the level where they imperil the advertising market, because if advertising is so annoying that a large segment of the population wants to block it, then advertising should get less annoying.”
“So I think the market will sort this out,” he said. “At least that is the bet we made when we opened the extension gallery and didn’t have any policy against ad-blockers.”
That was a long quote but it’s the last sentence that was uttered by a company that is both loved and scorned at the same time. This is uttered by a company that some would think anti-trust is in their future in the same way it was for Microsoft and IBM. Letting the market sort it out is the only way to go in the long run. Sure there will be hiccups but the alternative (some form of regulation that reads real well but in practical use is just plain stupid) is not going to work. I think that there is enough evidence from 2009 for that one.
Similar extensions are currently available on Firefox, which has a much larger market share but has not exactly stopped Google in its tracks so that may be the evidence needed.
Oh and if you want to gain access to these blockers here’s their stories and a link or two for you.
As it happens, two 28-year-olds, Michael Gundlach, an independent programmer from outside Athens, Ga., and Tom Joseph, an M.D.-Ph.D. student at Mount Sinai Medical School, separately went through the exact same experience. In telephone interviews, each told of excitedly looking to see if he could install a Chrome extension of his favorite Firefox add-on, Adblock Plus, which prevents ads from appearing on Web sites, whether bright flashing animation or the text ads that Google serves up after a search.
They did not find one. So, naturally, each spent a day or so creating a rough version of such an extension, with much more work to come. AdThwart from Mr. Joseph is now No. 2 in popularity among the more than 1,200 Chrome extensions; AdBlock from Mr. Gundlach is No. 8. Together, they already have more than 120,000 users.
Happy ad blocking!