Apple Isn’t Interested in Big Data

In Big Data, Data & Analytics, Featured on App by Vaughn Highfield

Apple Tim Cook

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, says consumers aren’t its product

Big Data is big business nowadays and any company with any sense is making the most of user information that they hold. So, when Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company – which has well over 800 million users – isn’t interested in the Big Data opportunities that its customers provide, it came as quite the shock.

While Google and Amazon offer cheaper hardware in exchange for being able to target adverts and products at you from your usage data, Apple charges a premium and then does little to nothing with the information you send their way.

“We’re not reading your email,” said Tim Cook during an interview with Charlie Rose, “we’re not reading your iMessage. If the government laid a subpoena on us to get your iMessages, we can’t provide it. It’s encrypted and we don’t have the key.”

“Our business is not based on having information about you”, continued Cook. “You’re not our product. Our product are these [iPhones] and this watch [Apple Watch], and Macs, and so forth. And so we run a very different company.

“I think everyone has to ask, how do companies make their money? Follow the money. And if they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried. And you should really understand what’s happening to that data, and the companies – I think – should be very transparent.”

Obviously, that’s not the case for every company out there that’s taking customer data. In a lot of cases customers don’t really know where their data is going and for what purpose it is used. Obviously customers will only give data away if they think it’s of a worthy value exchange, but how many companies actually go out there and be transparent with what they’re using customer data for?

It’s interesting that Apple feel this way too, as it clearly shows that – for a business with an incredibly strong set of products and delivery platforms – there’s no need to use and sell customer data and target third-party apps at them. Customers may pay more for the privilege of not being hassled in such a manner, but it seems to be working. And it’s statements like that from Tim Cook that will only strengthen brand loyalty – more so during this turbulent time around data collection thanks to GCHQ and the NSA scandals of the last year.

“We have hundreds and millions of customers,” said Cook in reference to NSA requests for data. “So it’s a very rare instance that there’s been any data asked. And one of the reasons is, we don’t keep a lot. We’re not the treasure trove of places to come to.”