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Lessons learned from the Apple-Google privacy fight

Rob Enderle | June 8, 2015
In the battle between Apple and Google, columnist Rob Enderle writes that the real issue worth noting --and one we all should be backing Apple on -- is privacy.

As a side note, I'm still kind of astounded anyone trusts any of these folks for this instance alone as it was incredibly evil. But, even in my business, it isn't uncommon to help someone get started and then have them stab you in the back.

Personally, I think this is a cheat because giving something away means you haven't created something of value and the way this is funded is largely by selling the personal information of Android users and ad revenue. Regardless, Apple had a problem because if consumers saw Android phones as equivalent but cheaper they would likely eventually either abandon Apple or force the company to collapse margins.

Apple's defense: Make privacy matter

So, since Apple can't defend on price, Tim Cook is personally defending on privacy, and in a world where we distrust the governments that rule us because they are often caught illegally violating our privacy, he should get traction. Now Cook has other cards here he can play, for instance Eric Schmidt has been outspoken about banning personal drones because he is afraid they will violate his privacy and the Google founders are known for being excessively private themselves suggesting they are being disingenuous with their offerings.

Now there are a lot of definitions for evil, but doing something you believe is wrong and could hurt others for financial gain would certainly make the list. Clearly a conflict of interest is in play here, given that Google was founded with not being evil as a core concept then intentionally began selling a product that violates the privacy beliefs of the firm's founders. Granted, Google did make a significant change in that later when they said that they were "just kidding" about the not doing evil stuff.  

Remember the old Mac vs. Windows campaign? If Apple were to dust that off and replace Windows with Android they could make some valid and likely frightening points about Google being disingenuous.   I think with Tim Cook's moves this week we are just seeing the opening salvos of what will be a far bigger battle, and in this case they are actually defending something, your privacy, which we should all value more.

Tim Cook's teachable lesson

The real lesson in all of this is looking at market conditions and competitors without blinders on. The cellphone companies looked at Apple as a non-threat even though the firm had just wiped the floor with a variety of large companies with MP3 players. At the very least, they should have had a contingent strategy ready to go if the iPhone looked like it was catching air. Second, you have to be able to defend your advantages.

 

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