Skip to main content

Tim Cook Burns Ad Based Businesses In Google Attack

Tim Cook delivered a fairly harsh assessment of businesses which derive profits from mining your data for advertising purposes. At the EPIC awards ceremony in Washington Apple's CEO went big on the dangers of allowing businesses to learn about you from your online data.

It's an interesting strategy, positioning Apple as a safe harbour for your information, financial, health and personal. However I'm not convinced that Cook has valid points once you take out the business led reasons for his attack.

Apple's income stream is based on the sales of hardware devices, specifically the iPhone. It has been the absolute star of Apple's business since launch in 2007, but in recent years has come to be such a big earner that it drives Apple's whole business strategy, not to mention its share price. The iPad looked like it may split that burden for a while, the Apple Watch might just do, but only because it's an iPhone accessory.

Google and its partners are able to offer some compelling devices and have logically hurt Apple's sales (that is iPhone sales would be higher without competition from high end Android phones) Cook hasn't really had a good weapon to use against them, however now the the iPhone 6 has addressed the weakness of the iPhone range by giving more customers what they want he's able to go on a full frontal assault against the Search giant.

Make no mistake, Cook has no interest in what companies like Twitter and Facebook do with your data (they wouldn't be so well tied into iOS if that were the case) they are just collateral damage in his war with Google. Cook wants (and is legally obligated to attempt) to take the whole premium smartphone pie. Google and Android stand in his way. Attacks on the OEMs only gives them credibility (see past history with Samsung) and attacks on their devices costs Apple credibility. Google is his only target and the perceived invasion of privacy is the weakness he is seeking to exploit.

Interesting to note how Cook and Apple's campaign has been received in a different manner to Microsoft's Scroogled campaign, which sought to deliver the same message.

Aside from that, is Google's privacy invasion really that much of an issue? I'm not convinced. If Google's algorithmic searches through my email, messages and images means that I get ads that better reflect the things that I might be interested in that's all good. Do better ads impact the privacy of my data? Not at all. Does Google's business model concern me? No.

The trade-off that Google offers amounts to free storage, tools and even operating systems in exchange for the right to create targeted ads. If you're the sort of person unable to deal with that relationship you should definitely shut down your Google accounts. For most people I think that will turn out to be a fair trade.

Whatever Apple tells you.