You’re on your own

Why Apple doesn’t want your private data

It’s no secret that Apple products set themselves apart from competitors in quality and industrial design. Just as iPhones and Apple Watches disrupted that which came before, the next step in human computing will be in our connected lives, building online profiles that reflect our actual life — a life that relies on cloud connectivity and online services.

The guys from Cupertino will insist it was always part of their ethos, yet their privacy and security rhetoric only truly ramped up after the Fappening debacle — from which they have admittedly emerged relatively unscathed.

Tim Cook used the stage at WWDC to echo his sentiments on user privacy. After skewering the competition for their data tracking he indignantly spat out the following epithet: “We won’t do that, why would you do that!”

The answer to that question is obvious, and even committed Apple-watchers see the benefits of taking a contra strategy. We use Google products because they are great (and free). Google Maps is great, and part of the reason why is because it leverages its enormous user base to constantly improve. Gmail is similarly great, and of-course their head start in the field of search goes without saying.

There are alternatives that do offer the privacy that we all crave.

Duck Duck Go is a viable alternative to Google Search, but noone every uses it because Google’s search results are reliable, they are an industry leader and a ubiquitous presence. They are the Coca-Cola of online services, and the next decade is poised to deliver a turf war akin to the cola war of the 80s (hopefully with accompanying Negativland album).

Apple can’t compete with Google’s online services the way their do with physical products or a user interface. You can’t slap a digital crown on a map, or flatten out the interface on a calendar sync algorithm.

Privacy is the only one thing Apple can do to maintain an edge, and it happens to sit harmoniously with Apple’s core values and uncomfortably with Google’s business model.