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Google Photos: How big a threat to Apple?

Gregg Keizer | June 5, 2015
CEO Tim Cook makes plain that Apple won't compete, at least on one level

So was Gottheil. "I think for Apple to do better in the cloud, it's going to require a separate design and development team," he said. "Something out of the blue."

Why? Because Apple's internal DNA is simply not able to execute on cloud-based initiatives.

But maybe Apple doesn't want to compete there.

Although some saw Apple CEO Tim Cook's latest take on privacy as a cynical smokescreen to disguise the fact that the Cupertino, Calif. company is far behind in online, others read it as sincere.

In a speech Monday covered by Techcrunch, Cook took to task information collection, calling out Google, if not by name.

"We believe the customer should be in control of their own information," Cook said. "You might like these so-called free services, but we don't think they're worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose [emphasis added]."

"Who wants to hand over all their photos to Google?" asked Milanesi in an interview before Cook's comments. "What are they using the pictures for? That's the question."

Others wondered that too. "Why is Google doing this, and how will it make money off it?" said Dawson, who pointed out that Google serves ads based on machine-directed examinations of Gmail messages. "What will Google learn about you [from photos]? Photos are quite private things."

"Will Google use Photos like Gmail? You betcha," said Gottheil. "They'd be crazy not to. It's a potential gold mine for them."

Apple has been trying to differentiate itself from the likes of Google and Facebook on just this level, constantly reminding customers that that is exactly what they are to the company: Customers who buy their devices, not information to be mined for advertising.

"How will Apple respond?" asked Dawson. Not by duplicating Google Photos' backend processing. "They have to make the product better."

Exactly how Apple does that, of course, is the $64K question.


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