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What Apple Does and Doesn't Know About You 214

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-know-nothing dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Tucked inside Apple's first-ever transparency report, published yesterday, was a not-so-subtle dig at the tech giant's competitors. 'Our business does not depend on collecting personal data,' Apple wrote. 'We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers.' It's no secret that for social web companies like Google or Facebook, collecting, storing, and analyzing data about every aspect of your life translates into cold, hard cash—the more sensitive and personal, the better. But in the emerging post-NSA new world order, the unwritten privacy-for-cool services agreement that drives the internet ecosystem is making netizens increasingly uneasy."
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What Apple Does and Doesn't Know About You

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  • It's true. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @09:45PM (#45352147) Homepage Journal

    Put the cash on the table for an iPhone or iPad: your deal is done. Get "free" Facebook, Google, etc. and your private information is how they make their money.

    I'm happier paying up front and leaving the store with no parasites attached to me.
  • Re:bull. shit. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @10:03PM (#45352265)

    Holy. Shit. They have to collect your private information when you apply for credit.

    Fuck, they must be Naazis.

  • Re:It's true. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @10:05PM (#45352275)

    If Apple only makes their money selling hardware, how about opening up the OS to allow people to install anything they want? I'm happier having Google handle my searches and email than giving money to a company that keeps attempting to lock people to their 'walled garden'. Many people still use Google services even if they have an iOS device as well, as it tends to be some of the best available. Apple can get in all the 'digs' they want on their competition, but the RDF ain't what it used to be.

  • Re:bull. shit. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @10:08PM (#45352289)

    Collecting name and contact information

    compared to...

    Making database of email contents, web browsing habits, search strings, chats, voice calls, social network, photos, etc, including "dark profiles" of non-"customers"

    Yeah, totally the same thing.

  • Re: It's true. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @10:23PM (#45352359)

    So you (basically) have no problem with Google data mining your life. Good for you!

  • Re:bull. shit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @10:44PM (#45352473)

    When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to join you on Apple forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.

    One might reasonably expect that if you're having Apple send an e-mail message to somebody else (such as "here's a URL", "here's a picture", "join me on this forum", etc.), they would need to collect that person's e-mail address at minimum (and a name so that the From: line doesn't look quite so cheesy), and that if they're going to send someone a physical product, they would need to collect that person's name and mailing address at minimum. I don't know about the phone number, unless that might be used if you "send" them a product to be delivered to an Apple store rather than to their home and you specify that they should be sent a text message when the product arrives (which is an option they offer).

    When you create an Apple ID, register your products, apply for commercial credit, purchase a product, download a software update, register for a class at an Apple Retail Store, or participate in an online survey, we may collect a variety of information, including your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, contact preferences, and credit card information.

    At least when purchasing things, they'd need credit card information if you're purchasing stuff online. Most if not all sites where I've used my credit card want my mailing address (perhaps to make sure that credit card really belongs to the person at 111 Penny Lane, Anytown, USA), my name (perhaps to make sure that the credit card really belongs to Jane Doe), and some want the phone number (perhaps to call me if there's a problem).

    So, yes, in some sense, their business, like many other businesses, requires that you provide them with some amount of personal data so that they can send you messages, bill your credit card, etc.. Apple's claim, for what it's worth, appears to be "the personal data is not of value to us for other purposes", e.g. "Safari doesn't keep track of where you go online so that we can send you e-mail about Apple products that our analysis of that data suggests you might like".

  • Re:It's true. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @10:51PM (#45352505) Homepage

    If Apple only makes their money selling hardware

    I suspect these days Apple makes a lot of money from iTunes.

    I'm happier having Google handle my searches and email than giving money to a company that keeps attempting to lock people to their 'walled garden'.

    Have you used an Android tablet? I know my Nexus tries really hard to at least steer (if not downright force) me into using some Google stuff. I've had to actively prevent it from enrolling me in some Google services.

    I'm betting Samsung tries to do the same thing. And, gee, I seem to recall Micrsosoft has decided to follow suit with their own 'walled garden'. Apple created a business model which everyone desperately wants to re-create.

    Apple can get in all the 'digs' they want on their competition, but the RDF ain't what it used to be.

    It remains to be see how they do in the long run, but Apple is still worth around $100 billion dollars or so -- I'd say that so far what you call the reality distortion field has, in reality, been working quite well from a business perspective.

    Like 'em or hate 'em, Apple has had people lining up to buy their stuff (literally), and then keep buying stuff from iTunes and give them a pretty steady bit of revenue.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @11:37PM (#45352753) Journal

    Yeah, like Apple would forgo an opportunity to earn money, simply because they also earn money elsewhere.

    They've done exactly that, many times. Not all profitable activities are profitable enough to be worth Apple's time and attention. That's why they gave up making the Xserve and Xserve RAID products, for example.

    -jcr

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @11:53PM (#45352863)

    True, but that's only part of the equation. If privacy is valuable to their customers, Apple will gain customers (and money) by not harvesting their data.

    Besides, Google is far more experienced at data mining than Apple is likely to ever be, so rather than try to beat Google at their own game, it's probably wiser for Apple to play counterpoint here.

  • Re:It's true. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @12:56AM (#45353199)
    Apple's path involves the customer paying with money.

    Android/Google's path involves the customer paying via advertising --- which means being annoyed with popups and crapwares --- but not having to pay $$$ for features.

    You do have to pick one of these 2 options, you know. If Apple were to let go of the walled garden --- they can't be gatekeeper and their devices would be the same as Android for all intensive purposes.

    I'm thinking you don't understand that if Apple isn't Apple, the Google/Android way would over-run the experience and very quickly (no supervision = the insane run the asylum).

    The only other way is the Linux-style scorched Earth policy that makes it incredibly hard to make money resulting in a barren, but interesting, retro self-help paradise of sorts.

    Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick any 2.

    Apple is Fast and Good, but not cheap. (Anything you want exists but isn't cheap)

    Android is Fast and Cheap, but not good. (Anything you want is free, but comes with unwanted side-effect)

    Linux is Cheap and Good, but not fast. (Anything you want exists and is free, but is time consuming and inconsistent).
  • Re:It's true. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smash (1351) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:41AM (#45353599) Homepage Journal
    Above isn't troll, it's pretty much fact. Newsflash kiddos: there is no free lunch. You either pay up-front with money (Apple), or you pay with privacy/advertising (Google), or you pay with spending time to sort things out yourself (Linux/BSD/etc.). Make your choice.
  • by mveloso (325617) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:54AM (#45353647)

    Apple may collect that information, but as Apple said, their business does not depend on the sale of that info. Selling access to you is not core to their business, like FB and Google.

    They'd be stupid if they didn't collect that information. You're a 5 digit ID - can't you tell the difference between "we don't care about selling your data" and "your data is what we sell?"

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:59AM (#45353669) Journal

    collecting user data doesn't take any "time and attention", it's basically just pure "profit".

    You have no idea what you're talking about. Don't ever attempt to run a business.

    -jcr

  • Re:It's true. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhagwad (1426855) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @03:42AM (#45353789) Homepage

    Yes, I would feel better because you have a choice not to use Facebook.

  • Re:It's true. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by feral-troll (3419661) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @03:59AM (#45353873)

    I suspect these days Apple makes a lot of money from iTunes.

    Well if only Apple released quarterly earnings [apple.com] so that you could find out.

    iPad: $19.51B iPhone: $6.19B Mac: $5.62B iPod: $0.57B iTunes/Software/Services: $4.26B

    For the sake of argument all of the $4.26B was iTunes sales. That means Apple gets $1.26B after they give their 70% cut to the copyright/developer. But that's revenue not profit. Well $1.26B is a lot of revenue and again let's assume it's 100% profit (it's not). However, they make almost 6x as much revenue on the iPhone and 18x much on the iPad. In other words, their software sales is a pittance compared to hardware.

    Yeah but they still have a point, their business model is not based on "collecting, storing, and analysing data about every aspect of your life" and then converting it into cash. It's a question of prioritization. If living outside of Apple's 'walled garden' is more important to you than your privacy then by all means use Google's services and devices running their OS. Alternatively you could use products from a third party although that is, admittedly, not easy in the growing Android monoculture we find ourselves increasingly stuck with. In the mean time perhaps we should all consider not going for click-bait like this story.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @07:27AM (#45354719)

    Yeah, like Apple would forgo an opportunity to earn money, simply because they also earn money elsewhere. They may not be desperate to make money from the data they collect, but they would be stupid (in the "maximum shareholder value" frame of reference) not to benefit from it as much as possible.

    They would be stupid. Abusing your data is not part of their business. It would be very hard to turn this into profit, and Google is probably better at it :-) On the other hand, the price they would have to pay in lost hardware sales because of damaged reputation would outweigh any of those profits.

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