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Apple Needs to Quit iAd

Apple’s iAd platform is a forgotten relic of iOS 4.0 and a marker of the bad Apple—the Apple of MobileMe and puck mouses. It’s an abberation from beauty and quality, the purported tenets of iOS. iOS 7’s redesign didn’t quite reach the dark corners of Apple’s web services; iAd remains a ghastly glossy mess. Apple needs to quit the iAd program.

iAd's icon, gloss and drop shadows.

iAds are ugly in every way. Like Apple’s official icon for iAd, the ads themselves are visually awful: they are cluttered and clearly designed for archaic versions of the operating system.

They also create a terrible experience for the user. If you ever accidentally tap an ad, you’ll be cartwheeled into the App Store or driven up the wall by a modal pop-up. Their pithy attempt to translate web banner ads (which Apple has never done, nor should they) to native apps is confusing and conspicuous—an import corrupting the indigenous polish of iOS.

Quality, which continues to define Apple products, is not a word anyone would use to describe iAds. Their connotation is offensive. A porthole through which users see the hell of ad-support content, clawing desperately for Impressions, Interest and CPMs, they instantly make an app look junky and desperate. Ads ruin apps.

By deleting iAd, though there are other ad platforms for iOS, Apple creates a way of differentiating from Android: “iOS is the one without ads”. It also cuts the monetary motivation for developers of spam and junk apps, another way to increase quality in the crowded App Store.


“Our targeting is built upon a foundation of registration and media consumption data that’s exclusive to iAd.”

should not be a sentence on Apple’s website, but it is. Apple shouldn’t be tracking user data, and they definitely shouldn’t be selling it. Google services imply this transaction because they are free; we pay, sometimes exorbitantly, for the security and privacy that Apple suggests, and we don’t want to be targeted by cheap and ugly advertising. But Apple is letting us down. Ads are Google’s game, quality is Apple’s.

Most of the benefits to Apple’s iAd program are financial, and generally help developers, but the generated revenue can’t be more important than the drastic deterioration in quality. Besides, Apple drastically needs the web stack expertise and resources elsewhere.

For a company that won’t even introduce trials because it creates a bad experience, Apple, with iAd, has created a monster that has somehow stumbled into the modern iOS. The ad program is an ugly deviation from Apple’s principles; it needs to be not just forgotten, but to be killed.

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