Apple’s privacy-fueled profit train claims its first victim in Facebook
All the news, rumors, and tips you missed this week.
By David Price, Editor, MacworldFEB 5, 2022 2:30 am PST
Welcome to the new home for Apple Breakfast! If you’re a reader of Macworld’s UK site, you’ll recognize this column that will now appear on Macworld.com every Saturday. If you’re new, this is our weekly collection of all the Apple news you missed this week, in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.
The profit and pain of privacy
Corporations sometimes do the right thing, but that’s very rarely why they do it. Nine times out of 10 the rightness is incidental: a secondary bonus that comes free with an action that was primarily motivated by profit (or PR, but that just means profit in the long term). It’s our job as a society, therefore, to incentivise ethical corporate behaviour. To make it, so far as possible, profitable.
We haven’t historically done a great job with that, but it does seem to be working out pretty well in the privacy sphere. After spending roughly 18 months bellyaching about the privacy measures in iOS 14 and 15, Facebook finally had to “face” the music this week, projecting lower-than-expected revenue for the upcoming quarter and blaming the whole thing on Apple. App Tracking Transparency will cost $10 billion in 2022, the social-media giant sobbed.
Facebook has portrayed itself as the victim in all this, and I take no pleasure from the difficulties this will cause for the small businesses which use Facebook’s platform. But it’s worth taking a moment to consider the merits of a business model that can be decimated by simply asking users if they’re okay with the whole thing. App Tracking Transparency tells users they are going to be tracked, and asks if they mind. If your business model was predicated on users not being given that choice, and collapses as soon as they are, it’s hard to argue that it was an ethical business model–and nor, now, is it a profitable one.
To be honest I’ve always been cynical when people talk about Apple’s ethics: both when critics demand that the company be super-ethical, or when admirers claim it already is. That’s not what companies are for. We should regard them as the amoral profit engines that they are, and build a structure around them that directs their profit-seeking impulses in directions–whether that means developing great products or safeguarding our digital privacy–that benefit society as a whole.
Week in brief
Google is rolling out its solution to the green bubble problem and it’s pretty great.
The Macalope thinks Apple needs to start losing if we’re going to see real change in the App Store.
This week’s Different Think column looks at the nonsensical intersection of Apple and the high-end fashion world.
A New York court has dismissed a lawsuit accusing Apple of “false and misleading” iPhone advertising.
The new iPhone SE and new iPad Air have been spotted in India, having been imported for testing ahead of a likely spring launch. This follows their appearance in the Eurasian Economic Commission database last month.
There is currently no WhatsApp app for the iPad, which nearly everyone agrees is a rubbish state of affairs. But that may soon change: boss Will Cathcart says WhatsApp would love to provide an iPad app and has most of the technology in place already.