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Think about Flash. There have been Flash-blocking technologies on the desktop forever, but they never made much of a dent on the industry. Then came the iPhone, with Flash blocked by fiat. At first, the industry laughed, and said that Apple would be forced to cave and implement Flash support or lose sales to phones that support Flash.

Meanwhile, Apple was trying to sell hardware, and Flash makes hardware suck. It runs hot, it sucks up battery, and consumers blame the hardware, not Flash.

Who says, “Flash has terrible battery life?” Nobody. They say, “My iPhone barely lasts an afternoon before I need to charge it again.” Flash freeloads on the hardware, because nobody blames it for their bad mobile experience. In hindsight, it’s obvious why Apple refused to support Flash: It degrades the iPhone experience.

So Apple “blocked” Flash, and iPhone grew anyways, and it was Flash that got killed by iPhone, not iPhone killed by Flash.

Now Apple is making it easy to kill ads. And it’s for the same reason: iPhone owners would rather read certain web sites on their desktop browsers, because the experience of reading on the iPhone is terrible, thanks to ads. They suck up battery and hog the limited viewport.

If this had happened five years ago, people would laugh and say Apple was shooting itself in the foot, and that web sites would simply block Apple users that use ad blockers. But having seen what happened to Flash, they realize that there’s a reasonable chance that Apple users blocking ads will take ads to the same place Flash went: The trash can.

The web sites that figure out a different business model will beat those that block iOS user who block ads. The newspapers that play along with iAds will beat those who try to serve ads through HTML. And that means the industry could be about to receive a major disruption, one that didn’t happen on the desktop.

Just as Flash wasn’t killed by Flash blocking on the desktop, but by Apple refusing to support it on iOS.

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