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Apple’s strategy of doubling down on privacy as an effective business model in response to Google and its Android OS seems to be bearing fruit for company. As arguably the most famous proponent of citizen privacy Erik Snowden commented directly to this question posed by TechCrunch journalist Constine
“CEO Tim Cook recently took a stand on privacy and Apple’s business, saying “some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
Do you think Cook’s perspective genuine and honest, and how do you think it will play out long-term with regards to it hurting or helping Apple’s business, or whether Apple will keep this promise to privacy?”
“I think in the current situation, it doesn’t matter if he’s being honest or dishonest. What really matters is that he’s obviously got a commercial incentive to differentiate himself from competitors like Google. But if he does that, if he directs Apple’s business model to be different, to say “we’re not in the business of collecting and selling information. We’re in the business of creating and selling devices that are superior”, then that’s a good thing for privacy. That’s a good thing for customers.
And we should support vendors who are willing to innovate. Who are willing to take positions like that, and go “You know, just because it’s popular to collect everybody’s information and resell it..to advertisers and whatever, it’s going to serve our reputation, it’s going to serve our relationship with our customers, and it’s going to serve society better. If instead we just align ourselves with our customers and what they really want, if we can outcompete people on the value of our products without needing to subsidize that by information that we’ve basically stolen from our customers, that’s absolutely something that should be supported. And regardless of whether it’s honest or dishonest, for the moment, now, that’s something we should support, that’s something we should incentivize, and it’s actually something we should emulate.
And if that position comes to be reversed in the future, I think that should be a much bigger hammer that comes against Apple because then that’s a betrayal of trust, that’s a betrayal of a promise to its customers. But I would like to think that based on the leadership that Tim Cook has shown on this position so far, he’s spoken very passionately about private issues, that we’re going to see that continue and he’ll keep those promises.
Begun with the development of iPhones OS in 2007 Apple’s and Steve Jobs decision to create a kind of “firewall” in part to protect AT&Ts network from unforeseen damage by providing a sandbox quickly became a bone of contention between Apple and former friend Google.
Google denied access to consumers info from within IOS apps quickly developed the Android platform to protect their business. The rest is legal history in the making.
Here’s what Cook and Apple have been saying recently
“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
The message was clear: Apple thinks you should be in control of your own information. This missive came up again less than a week later at WWDC.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, emphasized that Apple does all its data processing on-device, and whatever it gleans from that never gets uploaded. Queries made to Apple’s servers are kept anonymous, not tied to an Apple ID and not shared with third parties.
Since at least 2007 with the first iPhone right through the the latest Apple Watch Apple has been betting that citizens will see the collection of people’s personal information for the purpose of monetization as an intrusion vs a convenience. For now this strategy seems to be paying off.