One of the most important tools in a marketer’s arsenal is differentiation. We see it everywhere. One favored product compared to another less favored product. Differentiation is a key component of success and few do it better than Apple Inc.
Macs and Windows PCs are, well, personal computers. Traditional PCs often are less expensive, and most run Windows. The Mac remains differentiated by hardware, price tag, total cost of ownership, privacy and security, ease of use, resale value, and, importantly, macOS.
Differentiation is important. These days, Apple is working hard to differentiate the company from the impact and effects of the so-called data-industrial complex.
Apple is not Facebook but the latter holds a closer proximity to Google on the world’s technology stage. Google is one of Apple’s prime competitors so it should not come as a surprise that Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken a position directly opposed to the search engine giant’s business model.
Our own information is being weaponized against us with military efficiency… We shouldn’t sugar-coat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data only serve to enrich the companies that collect them.
Cook can use that position as a prime differentiator because Apple’s business model depends upon hardware sales, not advertising sales and data collection. That’s the domain of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others who pilfer their user’s private information for financial gain.
We see vividly, painfully, how technology can harm rather than help. Platforms and algorithms that promise to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies. Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false.
This narrative goes well beyond product marketing and threatens to undermine the basic business model that Google and Facebook use to prosper. Cull information from users. Sell the information at a profit. Then, that information gets used against the users to misinform, mislead, and manipulate.
How is that not a danger?
This crisis is real. It is not imagined. Or exaggerated. Or crazy. And those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment.
Cook’s considerations are commendable. Someone of position and personal power needs to stand up against those who would mismanage our heritage for profits. Unfortunately, the rallying cry against the data-industrial complex sounds shrill at times. How so?
Apple makes billions of dollars a year in pure profit from Google by placing the search engine as the default for a billion Safari browser users. Google is the worst privacy offender on the planet (Facebook comes in second).
Advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency… For artificial intelligence to be truly smart, it must respect human values including privacy.
I cannot disagree. The dangers are real. Few are standing up against Google, Facebook, and others on the side of personal privacy, but would not Apple’s voice be louder if the company dropped Google as the default search engine? Would not Apple’s voice carry farther if macOS and iOS had simple built-in controls that would thwart such data culling entirely? Would not customers trust Apple more if the company provided a secure VPN service– a walled garden highway– without threat of trackers?
The dangers are real and Apple is right to point it out; right to differentiate the company from competitors; and wrong not to do something within its powers to thwart the data-industrial complex built by Google, Facebook, and various governments around the world.