Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why we should trust Apple with our data

Earlier this month, Edward Snowden wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times where he discussed how the world has widely rejected surveillance and how both companies and consumers are starting to understand why privacy matters. People found it interesting that the only company he mentioned by name as trustable was Apple and a lot of folks are wondering how on earth he could trust a company that produces products you can't see exactly what they're doing in your computer or device. Wouldn't it be better to use something like Linux?

I think I understand why he trusts Apple and why they might be as trustable as your friendly Linux distro maker. It comes down to money and reputation.

Unlike companies like Google, Apple's primary goal is to sell you devices and software. They don't care about your data because they aren't really set up in a way that would allow them to monetize it effectively. Everything they do is an effort to increase marketshare and drive more people to use their products. Make no mistake: Apple doesn't particularly care about privacy, not in any meaningful way. But they care about money and selling privacy as a feature, being the only platform that focuses on privacy, it's an awful good way to make more money. People want it and people are willing to pay for it.

Looking at it that way, Apple would be suicidal to push privacy as a feature and still sell us out secretly. The moment that behavior would become public knowledge, there would be absolute hell to pay. Any new customers they get from their huge privacy push would be lost in a few days. More than that, nobody would ever trust them again after such a betrayal.

Overall, I'm starting to trust Apple to get privacy right. They're smart marketers and smart engineers. They are in this fight to win and winning is defined by money and customers. I see no reason not to trust that they will do whatever it takes to get more of both. Privacy is the new hotness.