With Apple dealing with struggling iPhone sales, it has decided to play the privacy card in an attempt to distinguish its handsets from the multitude of Android phones in the marketplace. With phones like the new Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ getting much of the attention from consumers these days, and mainstream media’s fawning over foldable phones, Apple has produced a new 60-second ad that focuses on, yes, privacy.

This has been a hot button issue for Apple CEO Tim Cook. Last year, when Facebook was still in the throes of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Apple executive said that Apple would never be in Facebook’s position because his company would never make its customers the product. The CEO said in an interview less than a month later that, “Our tact on this is we take a minimum amount of data from customers, only that which we need to provide a great service. Then, we work really hard to protect it with encryption and so forth.”
This isn’t the first time that Apple has advertised its privacy policy in an attempt to promote the iPhone. You might recall that earlier this year, the company placed a huge billboard on a building in Las Vegas where attendees of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) could see it (Apple did not have a booth at CES, by the way). Borrowing the city’s iconic slogan, the billboard said, “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone,” and included a link to Apple’s privacy website.

Privacy is a fundamental human right says Apple

On that page, Apple says that personal information like your heart rate, the news stories you read, the websites visited on your phone and the calls, texts and emails you made stay on your iPhone where only you can access them.

With that in mind, the new ad released today shows a variety of images related to privacy. For example, there are “No Trespassing” signs, a locked file cabinet,  and closed doors with signs that read “Keep Out” and “Do Not Disturb.” A couple of bathroom related scenes are shown, including one showing an airplane lavatory door being locked. A student sitting in a classroom eats a note rather than turning it over to the teacher, and a document stamped “Personal Data, Confidential” is shredded. You get the idea. The tag line reads, “If privacy matters in your life, it should matter to the phone your life is on. Privacy. That’s iPhone.”

Apple says that unlike Google, it doesn’t collect users’ personal information to sell to advertisers. One technique Apple employs to keep personal data out of the hands of third parties is something it calls Differential Privacy. This entails Apple “scrambling” the personal data belonging to an iOS user and mixing it up with scrambled data belonging to millions of other users. Doing this might reveal certain patterns that Apple can use to make QuickType suggestions, know a user’s most popular emoji and more. But it does not help Apple learn specific personal information that it can associate with a particular iOS user.

Assuming that Apple is telling the truth, its privacy policy probably costs it a ton of money from advertisers that Apple hopes to recoup and more via hardware and services sales.

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