Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Could Be Doing More for User Privacy, but It Should Not Have To

Jason Snell, Macworld:

For years now, Apple has trumpeted its commitment to the privacy of its customers. Unlike most of its competitors, Apple’s business model (primarily selling products and services, not advertising) allows it to succeed without relying on collecting personal information from its customers. It’s a big advantage, and Apple knows it.

But when I look at Apple’s product strategy, I’m surprised at all the ways that the company has failed to take advantage of its unique position. From operating-system features to new services, the company should double down on privacy — and widen the lead it has over its competitors.

Snell is onto something here, and Apple could do more to improve privacy in Mail and improving the safety of its App Store. But I disagree with the suggestion at the end of this piece:

Most of my suggestions will cost Apple a lot of money to implement. In the case of something like App Store integrity, the company needs to pay up and do the right thing. But since Apple has built an impressive business on selling services to its users, perhaps there’s an opportunity here to increase privacy by providing a subscription service.

Privacy should be an expectation for all — not a premium product offering for those who can afford it. I have written before about how, in a better world, Apple could not market based on privacy because every company would be similarly respectful of its users. I am adamant that this is still true.

Privacy should not be something users need to become experts in so that they can make purchasing decisions. It should not be up to individual companies, and it should not be a competitive advantage. It ought to be what we all have no matter our choice of computer, phone, web browser, search engine, or television. This has always been a public policy issue that has, so far, been addressed as a business differentiator.