Craig Federighi Responds to Google's Subtle 'Luxury Good' Dig About Apple Products and Privacy

In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that "privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services," a comment that some viewed as a dig at Apple.

craig federighi wwdc18

Craig Federighi at WWDC 2018

Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi has unsurprisingly disagreed with that position. In an interview with The Independent, he said that Apple aspires to offer great product experiences that "everyone should have," while cautioning that the values and business models of other companies "don't change overnight."

"I don't buy into the luxury good dig," says Federighi, giving the impression he was genuinely surprised by the public attack.

"On the one hand gratifying that other companies in space over the last few months, seemed to be making a lot of positive noises about caring about privacy. I think it's a deeper issue than then, what a couple of months and a couple of press releases would make. I think you've got to look fundamentally at company cultures and values and business model. And those don't change overnight.

"But we certainly seek to both set a great example for the world to show what's possible to raise people's expectations about what they should expect the products, whether they get them from us or from other people. And of course, we love, ultimately, to sell Apple products to everyone we possibly could certainly not just a luxury, we think a great product experience is something everyone should have. So we aspire to develop those."

Federighi emphasizes Apple's commitment to privacy throughout the interview, noting that the company aims to collect as little data as possible. When it does collect data, Apple uses technologies like Differential Privacy to ensure that the data cannot be associated with any individual user.

Federighi also refutes criticism about Apple's products and services being worse off because of its pro-privacy position:

"I think we're pretty proud that we are able to deliver the best experiences, we think in the industry without creating this false trade off that to get a good experience, you need to give up your privacy," says Federighi. "And so we challenge ourselves to do that sometimes that's extra work. But that's worth it."

As an example of Apple's privacy efforts, the article provides a look inside Apple's "top secret testing facilities" where its Secure Enclave chips for devices like the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch are said to be "stress tested" based on "extreme scenarios" like ice-cold -40ºF or blazing-hot 230ºF temperatures.

apple chip lab

One of Apple's chip-testing labs (Brooks Kraft/Apple via The Independent)

Within these testing facilities near Apple Park is said to be "a huge room" with "highly advanced machines" that heat, cool, push, shock, and abuse chips before they make their way inside Apple devices, but no further details were shared.

The lengthy interview goes on to discuss Apple's dispute with the FBI over its refusal to unlock an ‌iPhone‌ used by the shooter in the 2015 San Bernardino attack, as well as Apple's decision to store the iCloud data of Chinese accounts on servers overseen by GCBD, a company with close ties to the Chinese government.

Top Rated Comments

kis Avatar
62 months ago
And that’s why I switched from Google services and Android to Apple.

Honestly, Google’s every fiber is evil IMO. They monetize on gutting their customers’ personal data, not giving a crap what that ends up doing to the individuals. And what’s especially low: they deliberately prey on those who can’t afford anything else.

What google does is, in my opinion, against basic human decency. But if you look at the constant flow of scandals about discrimination and sexual abuse within the company itself, it’s not really surprising.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deeridiot Avatar
62 months ago
I haven't yet read Pichai's column, but the comment quoted sounds very dense. Of course we (the users, not Google or Facebook) all agree that privacy should not be a luxury good. Pichai is in the unique position to make that happen! If they improved privacy on Android and Google services, suddenly everyone would have access to it! But that will never happen since that's where they get the $$$.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacInCharge Avatar
62 months ago
Uh, my iCloud data is stored in China?
I believe from reading the article it's only for Chinese iCloud accounts.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Attirex Avatar
62 months ago
Those who can't afford, and don't have, a smartphone probably have the best privacy of anyone.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
62 months ago
And that’s why I switched from Google services and Android to Apple.

Honestly, Google’s every fiber is evil IMO. They monetize on gutting their customers’ personal data, not giving a crap what that ends up doing to the individuals. And what’s especially low: they deliberately prey on those who can’t afford anything else.

What google does is, in my opinion, against basic human decency. But if you look at the constant flow of scandals about discrimination and sexual abuse within the company itself, it’s not really surprising.
What exactly is it you think Google is doing? I see rhetoric and hyperbole in your comment, but nothing of substance. Evil, gutting, preying, against human decency... like how? It's totally fine not to want Google in your life, but you should probably save the overly dramatic prose for something that's worth it. Still I'd really like to know what you think Google is doing.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apolloa Avatar
62 months ago
We will see, Apple is being sued for selling users information, that’s not been reported on this site though.

http://9to5mac.com/2019/05/25/apple-itunes-lawsuit/ ('https://9to5mac.com/2019/05/25/apple-itunes-lawsuit/')

So much for privacy Apple, sold to the highest bidder it seems... bunch of hypocritical liars.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple Cancels Electric Car Project

Tuesday February 27, 2024 11:05 am PST by
Apple has canceled all plans to release an autonomous, electric vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been working on an Apple Car for more than a decade and invested millions of dollars into development before deciding it was not a viable project. Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams today told approximately 2,000 employees working on the Apple Car that the project was canceled,...
General Apps Messages

iOS 17.4 to Add This 'Groundbreaking' New Messaging Feature

Friday February 23, 2024 5:05 am PST by
With iOS 17.4, set to arrive in March 2024, Apple is bringing a new cryptographic security feature to iMessage called PQ3. This "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks," according to Apple. Let's break down what that means. Apple's iMessage service already supports end-to-end encryption, but security...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Coming Soon With These New Features for Your iPhone

Monday February 26, 2024 6:08 am PST by
In a press release last month, Apple confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU, Apple Podcasts transcripts, and an iMessage security upgrade. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

iOS 18 Rumored to Be Compatible With These iPhone Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:31 am PST by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and thereby also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. The post was spotted by MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris, and it has since been deleted. However, this was likely because the...
applearcade

Game Developers Describe 'Smell of Death' Around Apple Arcade

Monday February 26, 2024 7:24 am PST by
Some game developers are dissatisfied with Apple Arcade amid concerns about the subscription service's future, a new report claims. Sources speaking to mobilegamer.biz described a "smell of death" around Apple's games subscription service and noted the difference between the company's investment in TV and music, and its interest in games. "At the very top of the company there needs to be a ...