Of frying pans and fires: Despite mistakes, Apple’s still better on privacy

Apple needs to fix its Siri problem, but it’s still better on privacy than the competition.


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One of the favorite tropes of the serial jerkery The Macalope covers is the repeated insistence that any one event taken in isolation from everything else will doom Apple forever.

Writing for the Forbes contributor network and Carnival Barker Academy, Gordon Kelly says “Apple Just Gave 1.4 Billion iPad, iPhone Users A Reason To Leave.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Daniel and SamT.)

Like they needed another.

Earlier this month, Facebook gave its 1.3 billion users the perfect reason to delete their accounts. Now Apple appears has [sic] done the same for its 1.4 billion iPhone and iPad users worldwide.

Yes, Apple and Facebook are virtually indistinguishable on privacy.

[A giant spaceship hovers over the planet. Massive cargo bay doors open and 400 billion eye-roll emoji aliens fall out, burying the Earth.]

Last month The Guardian revealed Apple was employing contractors to listen to and “grade” Siri recordings and they “regularly” heard confidential information from iPhone and iPad users…

The Macalope is most definitely not here to defend Apple on this. As the company that uses privacy as a huge marketing tool, Apple needs to do better—in fact, it should be the best—and it is not. The Macalope is no fan of the Echo, but Amazon lets you view what’s been recorded and opt out of having recordings reviewed by Amazon to improve Alexa’s responses. Apple currently does not, other than giving you the option to decline to use Siri.

But Amazon doesn’t make a phone. They did for a minute and look how that turned out. Unless you’re leaving your iOS device for a flip phone, rotary phone or two cans tied together with a string, you’re still going to have a device that’s got an always-on microphone and, more importantly, a host of other services where Apple does do better with on privacy. If you think you’ll get better privacy by having an Android device that you sign into Google services on, well, good luck with that.

Now, some of you are thinking, oh, there goes The Macalope again, with his knee-jerk defenses of Apple. He should take these to the other side of the river where the Water Clan folk gather. Perhaps they will be interested in purchasing what he has to offer, but we of the Forest Clan have no interest in such wares!

First of all, the Forest Clan are a bunch of illiterate lumber-schlepping yahoos who know nothing of media criticism. There. The Macalope said it. We were all thinking it, especially you, Bartu Longshanks of the Mountain Clan. Second, it’s not so much about defending Apple as it is about deconstructing poor arguments. It’s just that Apple seems to attract poor arguments like actual apples attract fruit flies. But, guess what, Apple’s not the only company that Kelly criticizes with over-the-top admonitions of failure.

“Samsung Sabotages Galaxy S10, Note 10 In Stunning Move.” (Tip o’ the antlers to J Cabrera.)

What did Samsung do that was so stunning? It sold the same screen technology that’s in the Note 10 to Apple. How dumb! The very erudite wood-pushers of the Forest Clan would never do something so stupid!


This is, of course, Samsung’s business model. It has been for years. And Samsung makes billions off of it. But the Forbes contributor network and Belabored Day Sales Event would have you think Samsung is being stupid ol’ Ned Flanders letting Homer keep his lawn mower for 31 seasons of a cartoon show.

…Samsung is compromising perhaps its best shot to tangibly eat into iPhone sales.

Yes, rather than sell 70 million screens for iPhones, Samsung should get a fraction of that in more Galaxy sales. That’s where the smart money is.

Samsung is many things but it isn’t stupid. OK, well, that Galaxy Gear ad where the creepy guy follows a woman around the ski slopes and takes video of her was very stupid. But, in general, Samsung isn’t stupid about its business. People aren’t suddenly going to stop buying iPhones en masse if Apple gets screens from some other company, even if the screens aren’t quite as good. There are a lot of reasons why people buy iPhones beyond screen resolution. People who are hung up specifications don’t get that.

One of those other reasons why people buy iPhones is privacy, though. And Apple should make sure it’s the best at every aspect of what it claims to be the best at.

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