The greatest thing about Apple isn’t its computers, its tablets, or even its flagship iPhones. No, Apple’s best product, according to tech columnist John Patrick Pullen, is its commitment to protecting user privacy.
While that’s not a product you can buy in a store or via Apple.com, Pullen contends that it’s what gives Apple an edge over other tech giants. In a recent piece for Time, the tech journalist wrote that Apple’s commitment to data security, and how it makes money compared to other tech firms, had led him to trust his sensitive data with Apple’s cloud services, rather than Google or Amazon.
It’s the Business Model
The first reason, and possibly the most important according to Pullen, is Apple’s business model. While Apple’s products and services tend to err on the pricey side, they represent the primary source of revenue for the company. That’s a prime difference between Cupertino and other Silicon Valley juggernauts.
Google also makes and sells devices, but it has a slightly different business model. Specifically, the company makes money off of the ads and user data that it collects from its products and services. Data that it uses to target advertising. Facebook, too, treats data like a product — offering user insights for curated ads and making money off of its users’ profiles and preferences.
Amazon, on the other hand, has a slightly different gadget-focused business model, but it still involves selling users something. An Amazon Echo or Kindle, for example, are both essentially products that are meant to get users to buy other products from Amazon.
Apple, in contrast, keeps its user data away from prying eyes — and that’s largely because of one of its most longstanding reputations.
Apple’s Commitment to Privacy
Apple has long been committed to keeping private user data private. You can see that commitment in everything from its marketing material to its support resources explaining its position on the matter. According to the company’s new privacy website, Apple products are not only designed to “do amazing things” — they’re designed to “protect your privacy.”
Why? Because, as the company puts it, “At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right.”
Of course, actions speak louder than words. But if you need any additional evidence of Apple’s pro-privacy stance, just recall its legal battle with the FBI. And that’s just one example: the company has consistently resisted attempts to create backdoors, or otherwise release private user data.
As Pullen puts it, Apple is both proactive and transparent in its pro-privacy commitment. And those are “essential character traits of any company I care to do business with in 2017,” he added.
From its use of technology like differential privacy — which is a system that protects user data on the cloud — to its willingness to butt heads with law enforcement over encryption and privacy, Apple is an outlier among other tech giants.
While its products are pricey, and its security mechanisms might not be perfect, Pullen concluded that “Apple’s singleminded focus on locking down its systems justifies the premiums it charges for its products, to me at least.”