One portion of the letter sticks out in particular, and it’s a clear jab at the way Google does business. Cook writes that many internet services are free, but use your personal data to market products to you.
“You are the product,” Cook writes, referring to internet services like that.
That’s how Google operates. Its algorithms scan your email, web searches, etc. in order to show you relevant ads. Facebook has a similar model.
Here’s the key part of the letter:
A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realise that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.
Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetise” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.
Apple’s stance is to do the opposite and never look at your data.
Still, there are always tradeoffs. Google and Facebook make great products that you get to use for free. You might not pay money to Google and Facebook, but you do give up a little bit of yourself in order to make your digital life easier.