The battle in favor of The Free Web has been heating up in recent weeks, sparked by Apple's new allowance of ad-blockers into iOS's native browser. While proponents of the software claim it makes their browsing better, faster, stronger, opponents claim that it is theft from the sites and apps that rely on the income from advertising to fund their businesses.
One company that provides a lot of expensive services for free, with advertising support, is Yahoo. Finally taking a side in the debate, Yahoo began testing a concept of blocking users of ad-blockers from using their Mail client. Some people who were affected were upset, while others simply whitelisted Yahoo Mail and moved on with their day. The latter is, of course, what Yahoo is hoping will be the norm.
This isn't the first time someone has gone to the trouble to block ad-blockers from their platforms, and it will be far from the last. Why this is important right now, though, is because Yahoo is potentially the largest to take the stand. What they have done is also unique - they have prevented people from using not a transient application, like Yahoo News where someone could just switch to MSN News, but instead a sovereign app: one that people live within and would be difficult or impossible to switch away from.
The process of transferring from @yahoo.com to @outlook.com, for example, would not be a simple process. You have services that email you, people all over that have your address that you might not be able to get to update. No matter how hard you try, in switching email providers, you are guaranteed to lose people, and therefore content. This is likely why Yahoo's tests are running within Mail.
It is also unlikely that Yahoo will back down from this test, at least not in the long-term. The company runs their own ad network, which is directly affected by the growing number of blocking customers, and they run free services, which are ad supported, which will also be directly affected. This could be the beginning of a trend back in favor of The Free Web, instead of the recent fight against it.