Apple's Customers Are You, Google's Customers Are Advertisers

Old school Apple-fan Thomas Brand has used Apple's cloud services -- iTools, then .Mac, then MobileMe, and soon iCloud -- for nearly 10 years. He says the most important part of the service was the identity that came with having an @Mac.com email address -- a way to differentiate from the @hotmail.com and @yahoo.com email accounts of the world.

Brand points out that even though there were free alternatives to MobileMe, "the big difference between MobileMe and the free competition is the respect a paying customer is provided."
Google's users are never their customers. Google's customers are advertisers. When you trust your online identity to Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! you are trusting their customers, the advertisers, stay interested in you. I would rather pay for trust, then base my online identity on the profitability of click-through ads.

MobileMe is becoming a free service once again, but Apple customer's will continue to be its users. iCloud the replacement for MobileMe is going to remain exclusive to users of Apple's products. Apple is positioning iCloud as a feature that comes with its hardware, the price of which secures iCloud's revenue model, and its immediate future. Nothing is certain in web services, but at least with iCloud's model of syncing you control the data locally on your own machine at all times. If there is a lesson in why I pay for MobileMe it is to purchase what you feel is valuable but control what you value most. I hope Apple continues to offer online services that allow me to do just that.
iCloud isn't exactly free -- the price is just built into the products that you're already buying.

In its Q3 earnings call, Apple revealed that it was going to defer revenue from iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac purchases to cover the cost of access to iCloud. Apple has determined that the value of iCloud access is $16 for iPhone and iPad purchases, $11 for iPod Touch, and $22 for Mac (though that includes possible feature additions to Lion as well) and will recognize that value over two years to cover its costs.

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111 months ago
Agreed. I just don't trust Google. Partly because of Thomas Brand's points, but mostly because of their record of literally not giving a **** about their customers' privacy.
Rating: 12 Votes
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111 months ago
'"Google's customers are advertisers" The only thing that surprises me is that there are still people who don't believe this. Assuming you're paying attention to the subject.
Rating: 11 Votes
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111 months ago
it will be interesting to see what Google+ turns into ... I predict smarter spam
Rating: 11 Votes
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111 months ago
Google's goal is $ from ads.

Apple's goal is $ from creating the best possible user experience.
Rating: 8 Votes
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111 months ago

Not trying to bash, but this is the only way this will come across... Apple respects the paying customer by providing the most downtime out of all the services.
:confused:


Better downtime than no privacy.
Rating: 7 Votes
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111 months ago

Again, Apple collects much the same information as Google, and also uses it to anonymously sell ads. That shouldn't be the deciding factor.

Apple's primary motivation for their services is to lock customers into an online ecosystem which is geared towards their own hardware products.
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You’re talking about two different things, and it’s important not to blur the distinction.

Apple collects info, and uses it to sell ads, yes, as a minor side-project. Not as their entire business model the way Google sells ads. That is not a minor distinction; it's key to understanding the strategies and motivations of both companies.

When you say Apple’s primary motivation is to “lock customers in,” that’s an easy buzz phrase, but you can’t pretend they’re “locking people in” who want to escape to something better. They really DO make their money by providing a good user experience. Lock-in is irrelevant without that. How would they “lock people in” if their products weren’t great? You’d have a mass of unhappy customers—and you have to admit: what we actually see is the opposite.

And it’s easy to look at “lock-in” in a simple, emotionally-loaded way, but reality is seldom that simple. Apple has multiple different reasons for linking products together in an ecosystem; forcing customers not to jump ship is a simple, but wrong, explanation.

Apple is often VERY open about letting you out of their ecosystem (they pushed hard to get DRM removed from iTunes music, and they’ve built an awesome, 100% open app platform—Mobile Safari, a web app platform which ironically even Google has not matched). Just as Google works very hard to keep you IN their ecosystem (like cloning Facebook and blocking competitors’ location services from use by handset makes). In other words, both companies do both things.

You’ll notice that Apple “lock in” (like only allowing curated iPhone app installation, officially) often has very real user benefits. It’s not just arbitrary greed—you won’t find a pattern of lock-in for its own sake if you look at the facts honestly. You’ll find a pattern of "lock-in" (which is often not all that locked at all) for the sake of real benefits: things that work well together. You can’t point to ANY competitor who has phone hardware, desktop hardware, tablet hardware OS, apps, music/video store, and cloud all working together as a unified whole in any way CLOSE to the excellence Apple has achieved. Yes, that comes at a price—not by greed alone, but because things that are tied together sometimes WORK better together.

The problems of Apple’s “closed” method are real. Can you deny that the benefits are real, and huge, and not greed alone? Can you deny that this model of Apple’s has worked well for users too? Can you deny that it has led to things (like Android) that would not exist without Apple’s lead to copy?

So nobody should ever hope for Apple’s ecosystem model to fail: it serves most people really well, and the alternatives are even more flawed. It also serves as the basis for many good things that so-called “open” companies then copy. Google’s a great choice for some, and I wish them success with Android. Apple, it is clear, is a better choice for most.
Rating: 6 Votes
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111 months ago

So it doesn't matter until it does, so when does it? Being vague isn't making a point. I know I'm not a Google customer since I don't purchase anything from them, I'm a Google user. It doesn't matter that they COULD be combined with other sources, again being vague on your conspiracies doesn't prove a point.


I’m not trying to prove a point about how your private data can (and does) fall into the wrong hands. There’s no conspiracy needed to show that Google is selling you as a product. We’re talking about two different things here. It’s Google’s entire business model, publicly. Not a conspiracy.

As for “when it matters,” it matters when a stalker finds you on a service you didn’t know had enough info to do so, or when your government finds out you you’ve been protesting (not, not the US necessarily but lots of places), or when someone disreputable spams you, or when a hacker gets your phone number or SSN because twenty companies have it that you never heard of. Very common sense things. I don’t lose sleep over them, but they’re not nothing.

You have to care about what COULD happen, not what already has. Otherwise, why have fire extinguishers, or passwords, or have an umbrella in your car? Negative possibilities ARE worthy of discussion. It’s how they can be combatted.

But the privacy risks are irrelevant to my main point: that Google isn’t out to serve you. (Except maybe in the “To Serve Man” sense :) ) They ARE selling you, whether you think that’s harmful to you or not. And I like that Apple is, instead, selling a powerful, easy, great experience.
Rating: 6 Votes
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111 months ago
Absolutely. Apple makes their money by creating a great user experience for you. Directly. THAT is what they are selling, and YOU are the one they need to please!

With Google, almost 100% of their revenue comes from ads, so you are the thing BEING sold. The advertisers are the ones Google needs to please directly, and pleasing you is needed only indirectly. In fact, they don’t really need to “please” you: they need to scare you off the competition with misleading buzzwords like “open” and “closed,” and they need to give you something that is a) better then you’ve used before, if you never used Apple, and b) “good enough” that you settle for it.

The two ways Google sells YOU as a product:

1. Your time and attention. Every moment you spend reading ads to find the useful content buried in the chaos, that’s your time for sale. Every time you click an ad, that’s your time for sale.

2. Your personal details, correlated with as many other services as possible. Your name, your location, your age, your online habits, all your demographics. Of course, these should be privacy-protected, and sometimes they are (and sometimes they’re shared because you agreed to that in the fine print). But your details ARE still the product being sold: the data is anonymized and aggregated, but it makes Google ads worth a ton more to advertisers.

I’m not sure iTools/.Mac/MobileMe is the most shining example of Apple’s work :p But at least Apple’s motivation was providing a good user experience, not moving ads or gathering personal details to share with advertisers. And iCloud is another beast entirely....

I'm so tired of the online privacy/identity bandwagon people have been on for years. It right up there 'green' thing that is overdone. It doesn't matter if Google tells people I'm a thirty something males that enjoys playing golf and basketball and likes cheez-it's. If you don't want your life to be an open book, don't put it on the internet. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter, some people can get over their ego's because their 'online identity' isn't that interesting and most people would care less.


It doesn’t matter... until it does!

What DOES matter already (even if you trust that your info isn’t being combined with other sources to add up to much more) is that you are NOT the customer Google needs to please. You are a product that Google needs to maintain in good condition :)
Rating: 6 Votes
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111 months ago
I am a LONG time Google user but fully plan on switching my calendars, my docs, and my contacts over to iCloud. It seems like it will just be so integrated that it won't require much user input. I'm doing all of the same things with Google's calendar and contacts that iCloud will provide but setting it up to sync across devices was a nightmare and when something goes wrong, remembering how to set it up again is never easy. Even just adding a new device to the mix is too involved. Enter iCloud. Just put in my apple id and voila! It's all there. sweeeet. :)
Rating: 5 Votes
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111 months ago

it will be interesting to see what Google+ turns into ... I predict smarter spam


If it turns into anything, it will be the same damn thing as Facebook.
Rating: 5 Votes
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