For years, signs of discord between Facebook and Apple have been brewing.
Its managing directors, Tim Cook from Apple and Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, regularly veiled each other. “If you make money by mostly collecting personal information, I think you have a right to be concerned,” Mr Cook said in 2014 of companies like Facebook. Mr. Zuckerberg replied, “You think because you pay Apple that you somehow agree with them? If you were in accord with them, they would make their products a lot cheaper.”
But now Apple is making changes that threaten Facebook’s business – and the battle has intensified. Early next year, Apple plans to oblige iPhone owners to explicitly decide whether companies can track them across different apps. This is a practice that Facebook relies on to serve ads and place a higher burden on advertisers.
On Wednesday, Facebook went on the offensive to forestall Apple’s changes. The social network created a website listing Apple’s moves as potentially harmful to small businesses. (No mention was made of the changes being self-harming.) To add to the displeasure, Facebook also ran full-page ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times to explain that it ” Apple withstands. ”
And to double-emphasize its position, Facebook said it would provide information for an antitrust case against Apple by Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, so the court would understand “the unfair guidelines Apple is imposing.”
In a blog post Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president of advertising, said the company was taking the step because “we’ve heard from many of you, especially small businesses, that you are concerned about how Apple is going to change will impact your ability to effectively reach customers and grow – let alone survive in a pandemic. “He added,“ So we are advocating small businesses. ”
Apple executives have anticipated the protests from Facebook and vowed in recent weeks to continue the planned changes.
“It is already clear that some companies will do everything possible to stop the app tracking transparency feature,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, in a speech last week. “We need the world to see these arguments for what they are: a bold attempt to maintain the privacy-invasive status quo.”
In response to Facebook’s public challenge, Apple said on Wednesday that it stood up for its users who “should know when their data is collected and shared with other apps and websites.” The company added that Facebook doesn’t have to stop tracking users or delivering targeted advertisements, it “just requires users to make choices”.
The escalating tensions are part of an unusual battle between two of the world’s most valuable companies, which rely on each other and are having a huge impact on digital behavior.
The focus of the battle is how Facebook and Apple are diametrically opposed to each other, how they make money – and which company wins is likely to help shape the Internet for years to come. Apple prefers that consumers pay for their internet experience and need fewer advertisers, while Facebook prefers to make the internet free to the public. The bill is paid by companies that pay to serve ads.
The Fracas is also a reminder of the power of both companies over the internet as well as their mutual leverage. Facebook needs its apps to work on Apple’s devices and reach hundreds of millions of people. And Apple needs Facebook’s apps – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger – to make its devices worth their high price. That precarious relationship has underpinned their bigger fight, with both careful not to do anything to blow it up.
Economy & Economy
Apr. 16, 2020, 2:57 pm ET
“All of this will be a long time coming,” said Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies, a technology research company in Silicon Valley. “Much of the privacy measures Apple has put in place over the past few years to enable people to understand what is happening to them in the background has a lot to do with Facebook.”
Mr. Cook and Mr. Zuckerberg have long made it clear their dislike of each other’s philosophy regarding advertising, targeting, and privacy.
In 2018, the scandal engulfed Facebook over the news that voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica had collected Facebook data from more than 50 million people. When asked on national television what he would do if he were Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Cook replied, “What would I do? I wouldn’t be in this situation. “He added that it was no longer appropriate to regulate Facebook.
“We could make a lot of money if we would monetize our customer – if our customer were our product,” said Cook, referring to Facebook’s business model. “We decided not to do that.”
Mr. Zuckerberg responded by calling Mr. Cook’s comments “extremely glib”. He said, “It’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm Syndrome and that the companies that are working hard to incriminate you convince you that they actually care more about you.”
Then the fight went beyond words. Last year, Apple was upset when Facebook bypassed the iPhone App Store process to distribute an app that grossed $ 20 for users to allow the app to track their online activity. In response, Apple temporarily blocked some iPhone apps that Facebook employees used to text each other, take shuttles around the Facebook campus, and check the cafeteria menu.
That power Apple has over what apps are displayed on iPhones and how they work is now at the center of the antitrust investigation against the company. And Facebook was again at the end of its clout this year when Apple blocked the distribution of its new Facebook gaming app in the App Store. Apple rejected at least five versions of Facebook Gaming, referring to its rules that prohibit apps with the “primary purpose” of distributing casual games.
At the time, people close to Facebook said that Apple’s moves may have been influenced by how Facebook Gaming appeared to compete with Apple’s own sales of games.
In August, Epic sued Apple, accusing the company of violating antitrust laws by forcing developers to use its payment systems. On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it was on Epic’s side, stating that it was “obliged to provide relevant information as part of the Epic Games litigation about how Apple’s policies are on Facebook and the people and companies that operate.” use our services have had an adverse effect “.
Meanwhile, the two companies argued over data and privacy. In June, Apple tensed its muscles over the problem, this time with possible long-term implications for Facebook’s business.
At the time, Apple announced changes to iPhone software that would affect the ability of companies like Facebook to collect data about iPhone users. Changes included allowing users to share their approximate location instead of an exact one, and adding easy-to-read summaries to the App Store of what data each app collects.
Most worrying for Facebook, however, was a change that required iPhone owners to give apps explicit permission to track them across different apps. Under this policy, most people would likely stop Facebook from collecting such information. Facebook uses such data to create robust profiles of its users, which it then markets to advertisers.
Analysts said the change would likely have limited impact on Facebook’s main ad business, given that the company already knows a lot about its users’ interests from their activities on Facebook and Instagram. But they said it could hurt Facebook’s efforts to sell ads elsewhere on the internet. Facebook’s enormous amount of user data is also one of its most valuable assets.
“What could be at stake is a future business that Facebook believes is the next big thing that they can’t get without this data,” Bajarin said.
Right now, Apple and Facebook hardly compete with each other except for a few limited areas like the Facebook portal, a screen that Facebook sells for video chatting. However, both companies are working on what many in Silicon Valley think is the next big thing in computing – augmented reality, or a way to blend digital images into a person’s view of the real world – and analysts expect this race to become one Collision leads path.
When Facebook was publicly blown up on Wednesday, Facebook had fired a shot at its enemy this week, on Monday. As European authorities prepared new proposals to regulate tech companies, including a measure that required more transparency in ad targeting, Facebook responded with a statement welcoming the regulation – but wondered why regulators hadn’t targeted Apple too .
“Apple controls an entire ecosystem from the device to the app store to apps and uses this ability to harm developers and consumers as well as large platforms like Facebook,” the company said.