In November 2015, Google launched a service called Contributor that could hide ads on articles for a monthly fee. The model was considered a win-win for consumers and publishers. I subscribed to it as soon as it became available. A year later in December 2016, Google sent out an email notification that they were shutting down Contributor.
In the message, they said they would be launching a new and improved Contributor. However, they never did relaunch it. The Contributor site is still online but it’s essentially a ghost site in remembrance of yet another service Google killed off.
Apple News+ versus Google News
Earlier this year, Apple announced Apple News+. Apple News+ combines magazines and newspapers into a proprietary native app for iOS and macOS. The service provides consumers access to content they would normally need an individual subscription to.
When it was announced, it was considered a competitor to Google News, which it is. Aside from utilizing a native app, the biggest differentiator is that Apple is charging a monthly fee to gain access to a buffet of magazines and newspapers.
Google Play used to provide magazine and newspaper subscriptions, but that doesn’t appear to be available anymore. Based on the competitive history between Apple and Google, and Google’s significant interest in news content, one can assume that Google is working on launching a service that is similar to Apple News+.
Only Firefox (aka Scroll) is ad-free
Apple News+ is not ad-free. Just because you may not see ads now, it doesn’t mean they won’t be there soon. As Garett Sloane reported in AdAge, Apple may be ambivalent towards ads, but there will be ads.
Both Google News via AMP and Apple via their native app want to control how and where you consume content, but Firefox does not. Firefox Ad-free Internet is truly the predecessor of Google Contributor, not a one-to-one direct competitor to Apple News+. You pay a fee to not see ads on the publishers’ sites. Consumers win because their user experience is better and publishers win because they don’t have their traffic essentially stolen by Google and Apple.
Update March 24, 2020 – Firefox Ad-free Internet is now called Firefox Better Web.