Axios has what I want to deem a controversial headline about Apple CEO Tim Cook who has lead Apple since before co-founder Steve Jobs died in 2011. The position of CEO makes Cook a leader so I won’t argue the point. Cook talks the talk. What about walking the talk?
Privacy vs. Money
Felix Salmon has cast Cook as something of a modern day technology hero who reached the zenith of the corporate world thanks to Steve Jobs death.
Tim Cook never wanted to be Apple’s CEO: rather, he was thrust into the role by the untimely death of Steve Jobs.
Oh. Please. Stop. Cook may not have thought about taking on the role when he came to Apple but Jobs was ill for years before relinquishing the CEO role to Cook (who also ran Apple in Jobs’ frequent absences) so the thought probably crossed his mind.
Cook is no longer operating in Jobs’s long shadow. In fact, he’s arguably the most powerful and important CEO on the planet.
Yes, you can argue, but when Cook speaks, the market listens. When Cook speaks, world leaders listen. Apple may have Steve Jobs’ DNA, but this is Cook’s Apple today.
- Cook was an introverted operations guy, not a charismatic outward-facing leader like Jobs.
- Cook became CEO in August 2011. Now, seven years later, he is becoming visibly comfortable in the position of leading the world’s most valuable company.
What this tells me is that Cook has grown in the job and has become more outspoken on topics that matter to him, matter to Apple, and matter to Apple’s one billion or so loyal customers.
He’s pulling no punches when it comes to privacy rights.
Cook may not be pulling punches on talking privacy rights but he is not walking the talk. Yet. Last week I wrote about Cook’s declaration that privacy is an important human right. He warned against the data-industrial complex (think of Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al) and how dangerous it has become.
Shades of President Dwight Eisenhower and his warnings about the military-industrial complex of the 20th century.
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.
So, what is Apple doing to help customers retain their privacy? Does Apple have a virtual private network system to help customers avoid being tracked online? No. Does Apple have a built-in switch for iOS and macOS that prevents third party trackers (not just Safari, but applications also track their users, and among them, Google is the most flagrant)? No.
Cook is talking the talk but not walking the walk.
How so? Google. Apple receives a few billion dollars a year from Google to make the search engine giant the default search engine on Safari; Mac, iPhone, and iPad. That means hundreds of millions of Apple’s customers fall victim to Google’s tracking mechanisms by default– so Apple can collect billions of dollars in pure profit.
I understand that choice is important and Safari users have choices. We can choose to install ad tracker blockers on our devices. Our choice. We can choose to use a VPN. Our choice. Apple could choose to give customers a simple no tracker switch in System Preferences on macOS and Settings in iOS that would not allow third party trackers to stalk Apple customers.
That would be a simple way for Cook to talk the talk and then walk the talk. As it is right now, talk is cheap for customers while Apple collects billions in profits from Google.