The world of the "free" ad-funded app and game download may be about to be tipped on its head, with a report claiming that several unnamed mobile networks are planning to switch on a universal ad-blocker some time this year.
The claim appears in the FT, where it says one anonymous European wireless carrier has already installed an advert blocking system in its datacentres and could activate it this year -- or whenever the mood takes it -- should it fancy a war with Google.
The FT says it's a generic filter that appears to operate in the same way that the desktop ad blockers work, filtering out ad frames and not bothering to load content that comes from recognised ad servers. In-feed advertising like the stuff that appears to be posts inside Facebook and Twitter will get through, though, so it's likely to only be web sites and the masses of ad-supported apps and games that would suffer should the block get activated.
The blocker was developed by Israeli startup Shine, whose marketing boss said: "Tens of millions of mobile subscribers around the world will be opting in to ad blocking by the end of the year. If this scales, it could have a devastating impact on the online advertising industry."
One unnamed network employee seems to suggest that this might be an opt-in model, with users perhaps asked to pay a premium for the luxury of an ad-free mobile experience -- or it could be applied network-wide in an attempt to force Google to share some of its ad revenue with the networks. [FT]