Nobody wants ads on iPhone, but it's our fault they’re coming

App Store on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

Over the past few weeks, the news has been circulating that Apple is working to bring more ads to the iPhone. Mark Gurman, in his newsletter for Bloomberg, revealed that top dogs at Apple are looking to increase advertising revenue by almost three times the current amount – that means more ads. Later in the newsletter, Gurman dropped the bombshell that Apple has already tested bringing ads to Apple Maps and speculated that they could also make their way to Books, Podcasts, and Apple TV.

Let’s make things clear right off the bat: this is not great news. Nobody enjoys seeing ads, not least within the stock apps for their smartphone. Especially when the company that makes your smartphone spouts privacy-focused marketing at every opportunity. And then you have to pay a premium for the privilege on devices like Apple's best iPhones and iPads. Not cool, Apple, not cool.

And while none of us want to start seeing more ads for the things we don’t actually care about, it is sort of our fault (the community’s, not iMore’s). Let us explain.

Money-making scheme or forced into advertising? 

apple News

(Image credit: Future)

That privacy-focused marketing we mentioned earlier? For the most part, it’s true! Apple does care about users’ privacy, with features like App Tracking Transparency, Privacy Nutrition Labels, and encryption at just about every turn of your device. It’s certainly more than any other smartphone maker attempts to do, and it’s always been something that makes Apple stand out. This is what makes the decision to squeeze ads into every nook and cranny of iOS all the more strange. But we’re not entirely certain it’s something Apple wants to do.

Over the past year or so, Apple has come under pressure from multiple antitrust lawsuits – including the App Store and Apple Pay. For the most part, Apple has managed to fight off any legal proceedings so far, but the attacks seem to keep coming. Whether you agree with these allegations of antitrust or not, they’ve certainly caused Apple some negative PR. And it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume Apple is planning for the worst-case scenario of some of these allegations eventually being actioned (rightly or wrongly).

These antitrust issues pose a rather costly worst-case scenario for Apple. Regulators are calling for Apple to cut back on the commission it takes from the App Store from the current 30%. Another issue is requiring Apple to allow users to use third-party NFC payment options, rather than just Apple Pay. This means Apple would lose out on the fee it charges merchants for Apple Pay. Should Apple have to take any of these measures, the tech giant is going to start losing out on a pretty hefty chunk of existing revenue. Rather obviously, that’s a bit of a problem for Apple. And what does a business do when it can’t make money the way it has been doing? It opens up new revenue streams! (See where we’re going with this?) Enter ads in iOS: a cozy little way for Apple to make up some of those lost revenues.

It’s not like we’ve never seen it before, either. Samsung and other Android device manufacturers litter their systems with ads left, right, and center. Smart TVs even show ads now on the home page. These device makers have set the precedent for shoving ads onto your devices, whether you want them or not. Despite these ads, there are still plenty of people rocking the latest Android smartphone or hanging smart TVs in their living room. Apple knows the same will happen with iOS. As much as we’ll all hate the ads, it won’t be a reason to jump ship to Android, as there are just as many ads over there!

Ads are inescapable, and the lack of them in iOS has always been a compelling draw towards Apple; hence the controversy over the decision to include ads. What’s that saying about when you can’t beat them?

Ads on iOS will not be good. At all. It’s certainly not something we want Apple to pursue. And we don’t think they want to either. If only it wasn’t for us (as a whole) cutting some other revenue streams away from Apple, eh? Regardless of your view on Apple’s antitrust allegations, it looks like this one’s on us.

Connor Jewiss

Connor is a technology writer and editor, with a byline on multiple platforms. He has been writing for around seven years now across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech.