The CEOs of two American tech heavyweights have been going at each other in recent weeks. The most recent salvo came from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is firing back at Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Cook has been calling for increasing the regulations on social media, sometimes challenging the monetizing of user data at all. Speaking to Vox, Zuckerberg defended his business model, adding that any criticism from Cook about the way Facebook does business is “unfounded.”
“You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib. And not at all aligned with the truth,” Zuckerberg said, before adding, “The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay… Having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service.”
That hasn’t stopped Cook from going after Facebook. Recently, the Apple CEO was asked how he would ‘handle’ the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and Cook was blunt in his assessment: “I wouldn’t be in this situation… The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer – if our customer was our product… We’ve elected not to do that.”
Cook has even gone so far as to refer to internet privacy as a “human right” and a “civil liberty,” during an interview with MSNBC. Cook said he doesn’t like it when ads pop up related to his online browsing: “It’s creepy when, all of a sudden, something is chasing me around the web…”. This is one prime example of why looking at alternatives to Google Chrome is a good idea when you’re searching online, as your security can be breached therefore leading to unexpected ad pop-ups. Alternatively, you could try using a proxy service (such as those designed to work with The Pirate Bay) to browse on the regular if you must stay with Chrome.
That line of commentary fits well in with one of Apple’s latest sales techniques, promoting the brand’s commitment to ‘privacy’ and ‘transparency’ as reasons to choose their services over other companies that do, reportedly, sell user data.
Despite iTunes, Apple TV, and other downloadable or streamable content, Apple claims the company still makes most of its money off of hardware, mainly handsets like the iPhone or tablets like the iPad. Meanwhile, most social media companies make their money by collecting, collating and selling user data to advertising companies.
Zuckerberg believes his business model can be profitable and fair for users, calling Facebook a service for all people. “If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford… I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm Syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you…”
Wow… Your move, Mr. Cook.
Ronn Torossian is a leader in the public relations and communications industry