Apple positioned itself differently from its competitors early on. The tech company consistently pursued the path of a closed and therefore more secure operating system, both on the desktop in competition with Microsoft and with its restrictive mobile iOS, as an opponent to Android.
The disputes over its privacy guidelines are legendary, even the FBI gritted its teeth several times on the defensive company when it tried to access data from Apple users. And now Apple is attacking the most successful digital business model of all time, bringing powerful enemies against it. According to its CEO Tim Cook, it is about people’s data security and this is where reforms are urgently needed.
In a confusing, complex and sometimes threatening world for many, Apple is building a resilient digital universe of hardware and software in which one should feel protected.
Als Steve Jobs „Flash“ killte!
The fact that Flash, thanks to its huge hunger for energy, had a very negative effect on Apple’s battery life, may have played a role. But perhaps the most important reason, observers saw in advances by Adobe to develop Flash into a mobile developer language for iOS devices. From then on, it seemed, fun was finally over and Flash was practically history a little later. SWIFT, Apple’s own mobile programming language, did not hit the markets until 2014, but development began in 2010, by chance or not.
Apple: Back then against Flash, today against Facebook and Co?
You may have noticed, you may even have been pleased. Our particularly strict, European data protection ideas, our aversions to conspiracy theories and hatred on the Internet, have found a powerful ally: Tim Cook. In just a few weeks, Apple’s “ATT” should see the light of day, a program that is supposed to bring users more control over their privacy. With the new “App Tracking Transparency” policy, Apple wants to put an end to the “tracking and exploitation of user data across websites and applications” in order to maximize advertising income.
Under the title “A Day in the Life of Your Data”, the best marketing group in the world explains so simply and graphically what many NGOs have not managed to achieve in a comparable manner. You want to spontaneously place yourself under the Apple protective umbrella and not allow yourself to be further exploited by cookie monsters.
The whole thing has only one crux. Advertising tracking is the most popular and successful business model on the internet today. Users do not pay with subscriptions or one-off fees, but allow access to certain interest and consumption data so that the advertising industry can deliver its personalized advertising more accurately. Search titan Google, thanks to its own mobile operating system and enormous market power, will initially be less affected by Apple’s advance than Facebook, for example, and announced that it would want to adhere to the new requirements. Facebook, however, earns best on Apple’s end devices with precisely that advertising system that is now the focus of Cook’s Vendetta. And for the first time since its inception, the $ 90 billion or so annual advertising revenue seems to be seriously threatened.
Apple is known for perfect timing and cleverly addresses the media-boiled mood of conspiracy theories, fake news and online hatred. Tim Cook, for example, accused Facebook of manipulating public news consumption and of exploiting user data specifically for its advertising business, even if it was accompanied by the dissemination of misinformation. “What are the consequences,” asked Cook, “if you prefer conspiracy theories and calls for violence just because of their high traffic? What are the consequences if content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccinations is not only tolerated but rewarded? What are the consequences if thousands of users join extremist groups? ”
And appropriately, CEO Cook followed up against Facebook on the “International Data Privacy Day” in Brussels, without naming it. “If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that aren’t choices, then it doesn’t deserve our praise. It deserves reform ”, Apple CEO attacked Facebook head-on. And Mark Zuckerberg announced at about the same time that he wanted to fight Apple’s new privacy guidelines before the antitrust authorities.
Apple heralds a new era and wants to make it clear to every user how apps earn money with data and advertising. And what’s more, the user should be given the chance to refuse it. In the future, an app from the iOS store will explain to users what is happening with their data and give them the opportunity to deselect it.
The consequence of this is that the operator is then no longer allowed to use tracking and advertisements and thus no longer earns any money with them. For all app developers whose revenue is based on exactly that principle, this is a frontal attack on their business model.
Is Apple setting new (ethical) advertising standards?
For all those who were afraid of the tracking-financed advertising model, Apple should have hit a nerve. It is unclear whether the vast majority of users are aware that they are deselecting a system that allows them to use all kinds of services for free. We’ll know soon.
The inclined user will develop an inner balance where he still agrees to the tracking and where not anymore. Experts assume that up to three quarters or even more will use this option for various services. It could be that the bond to Facebook is stronger and more trusting than to other European apps and therefore less Facebook turns off the money in the end than the apps from home. But it could also happen the other way around or that everyone will suffer equally and it will be much more difficult to earn money with your own media offering – in this way. What will count now is trust, trust, and trust again.
The trust I have in a brand will decide whether I let them still earn money with my data or not!
At the moment it is still unclear whether Apple is simply reacting to a very strong market need that naturally harmonizes better with its own corporate philosophy than with that of other technology companies.
In any case, insiders are alarmed whether Cook would not simply want to create an important advantage for Apple’s own advertising network here. Experts warn that Apple could then treat third parties differently than its own services.
In the end, however, Apple’s move could be both: A powerful and momentous move that, after lengthy legal battles, will change the Internet to a certain extent, especially in the way that money is made with data. But it could also be a step that only really benefits one economically: Apple itself. We’ll see!
To the author
Mic Hirschbrich is CEO of the AI company Apollo.AI, advised leading politicians on digital issues and headed Sebastian Kurz’s digital think tank. His professional stays in Southeast Asia, India and the USA have had a lasting impact on him and have made him want to constantly expand his own perspective. In 2018, Hirschbrich published the book “Brave New World 4.0 – Chances and Risks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, in which, among other things, he deals with the socio-political implications of artificial intelligence.