Apple Doesn’t Care About You, and That’s a Good Thing

Apple is on the verge of announcing a home device to rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The tech world is buzzing about the possibilities, but a topic seldom covered is why this is an interesting case study on user privacy. Thanks to the four horsemen of the tech world (Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon) and the general public’s blissful neglect of their privileges, users have been happy to trade privacy for savings. The scale has been tipping toward complete transparency for a decade. Where it gets interesting is how Apple “thinks different” and their stark contrast in home devices will highlight that. Here’s what I expect to see in the coming months.

Apple Doesn’t Give a $h^t About You
Apple makes money by selling luxury hardware and by skimming money transactions within their App Store and Apple Pay marketplaces. That’s it. They don’t sell advertising outside of their market. They don’t even set foot outside of the walled garden. Apple will never care when you’re out of paper towels. They’re not interested that you just got into photography. Buy an iPhone, buy some apps, now you’re cool.

Where Amazon will intelligently determine that you’re a Tide man, and Google will gladly sell to the highest bidder the fact that you go golfing on Sundays; Apple barely cares about your name. You are a UDID (Unique Device Identifier), and if you don’t have an iPhone you basically don’t exists. So what’s this mean for their home `thing`?

It’s Gonna Suck
Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited to control my locks, lights, and amenities with my phone. A Siri speaker, however, can’t do much more than that without data. Data Apple doesn’t have. As Manton Reece explained on Core Intuition – The Echo can order your favorite Starbucks item for you, but unless it can do that in Mandarin, Apple’s response will be “That’s cute.”

The markets and products Apple approaches are completely different than Amazon/Google. Without the data for targeted advertising, there probably won’t be much this home device can do. And if it’s not an electronic Amazon employee in your kitchen, ready to place an order for you, it will probably be more expensive as well. So, why do I personally like that?

It’s a Slippery Slope
I consider myself to have a high tolerance for lack of privacy. The usual “I have nothing to hide” arguments draw a lot of water for me. Where that stops is a camera in my bedroom. What’s this thing looking at and listening to? What’s in the Privacy Agreement and Terms of Use that no one on Earth has ever read? How often will that change and where will it stop? Personally, I’m not willing to put a public listening device in my home so that I can save 10 cents and two taps on buying Nutella. (I’m fully aware that I probably have a dozen here already, but I won’t willingly add to it)

The neglected housewife relationship that I have with my technology is most likely temporary. How far can Apple reach while continuing to ignore the big data era of consumerism? How much function can a home device even provide without invading your privacy? I think this is the much more interesting conversation that we should be having instead of whether or not it will look like a trashcan.

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