The least bad

Facebook has apologized to its users and advertisers for being forced to respect people’s privacy in an upcoming update to Apple’s mobile operating system – and promised it will do its best to invade their privacy on other platforms.

The Register

Does this make Apple the good people now?

No, it doesn't. But it might make them the least bad people. Apple have what I call a first-order business model: you pay them for their expensive hardware and expensive services, and in return they work very hard to make it difficult for you to leave. They also try hard to extract rent from people who want to sell services on their platform.

This is a horrible business model, but it's a very conventional one which dates back a long way. I'm sure that if you bought an engine from Boulton and Watt they insisted that only a Boulton and Watt certified mechanic could maintain it, and the certifications were no doubt very expensive and had to be renewed every few years. If you buy a car now they really, really want you to have it serviced by their authorised service network who are all paying rent to them for the privilege of being part of the network.

What Google, Facebook, Twitter &c do is something altogether different. Their business model is second-order because there are two groups of people involved: their users and their customers. If you are a Facebook user they 'give' you services in return for which you give them shards of your soul, which they then sell to their customers, the advertisers. They further try to extend their soul-harvesting operation to people who are not directly users but who merely communicate with their users, who merely use the internet at all, who use a phone, and ultimately to everyone.

Apple are a company: Facebook, Google and Twitter are diseases.


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