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Posted on April 28th, 2011 by Barry Collins

The unedifying arrogance of Apple

iPhone 4 back

There are many things to admire about Apple (and its products), but its attitude isn’t one of them.

When customers discovered reception issues with the iPhone 4, did the company hold its hands up and immediately apologise? No, we were “holding the phone the wrong way” and offered a conciliatory piece of rubber.

When researchers discovered that the iPhone had been tracking your location and leaving that highly sensitive data unencrypted on your PC, did Apple show even an iota of regret? No, it waited several days before issuing a confrontational Q&A that claimed we weren’t smart enough to understand the “complex technical issues” involved.

Apple is displaying arrogance bordering on contempt for its customers, and here’s why.

We’re not tracking you

“The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.”

That is, at best, a distortion of the truth. Yes, the iPhone may only be plotting the location of Wi-Fi hotspots and 3G cell towers, but that’s often more than enough to build up an accurate picture of your whereabouts.

Yes, cell towers can be “located more than one hundred miles away”, but only if you live in the Mojave Desert. If you work in, say, the PC Pro office here in central London, there are 18 base stations within a 500m radius, as you can see from the map generated by Ofcom’s Sitefinder (below).

Sitefinder

In fact, when we first entered our postcode, we were asked to zoom in because there were too many cell stations to display on the map.  In short, there are more than enough cell stations in major cities to pinpoint your location to the exact street.

“Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”

Well, that depends on your definition of tracking. As our technical editor Darien Graham-Smith pointed out in a Twitter discussion on this topic, “unless your phone goes for long bike rides on its own, the data that tracks your phone also tracks you”.

And this 2009 Apple patent application certainly suggests that creating a searchable “location history database” on smartphones was very much Apple’s intention.

Too complex for you

The most breathtaking part of Apple’s Q&A comes in question two, where the company answers the question: why is everyone so concerned about this?

Providing mobile users with fast and accurate location information while preserving their security and privacy has raised some very complex technical issues which are hard to communicate in a soundbite. Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date.”

This, as PC Pro’s Real World Computing expert Paul Ockenden pointed out, smacks of the “Andrew Lansley defence”: there’s nothing wrong with the policy, you just don’t get it.

And what’s all this about “very complex technical issues” that are “hard to communicate in a soundbite”? That’s a bit rich from the company that sprinkles soundbites like confetti in keynote speeches, describing its iPad as “magical” without revealing even the most basic of specs – like how much memory the tablet has.

Give us as much technical detail as you like, Apple: we can handle it. If we get stuck, we can even pick up the phone and ask your press officers, in the unlikely event they’ll ever answer a question.

Apple does itself no favours with this relentless inability to admit when it’s wrong. Leaving an unencrypted batch of location data on people’s phones and PCs is bad, bordering on reckless. A simple sorry would have done.

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59 Responses to “ The unedifying arrogance of Apple ”

  1. David Artiss Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Excellent post – couldn’t have put it better myself.

    Don’t forget though that in their own Q&A they say (and I think you got this wrong in the Podcast) that this information IS sent back to Apple. Quite how this qualifies for “we’re not tracking you” I don’t know.

     
  2. Statto Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Calm down dear.
    1) I don’t care, I’ve got nothing to hide
    2) my “location data” shows all sorts of places I know I’ve (or my phone – unless it wasn’t a new one – it was) definitely never been.
    3) what are the chances that other technical gizmos track similar info (quite high?)
    4) why do you (and every other company) want to know how old I am if I’m married, what my income is etc…is there a difference?

     
  3. Ian Betteridge Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Sorry, Barry, but that’s utter nonsense.

    If I say to you “I’m tracking the location of your phone” that suggests that I have data from your phone which shows *your* location, tied to you (or rather, to your phone).

    No information which is identifiable to you *or* your phone is transmitted to Apple. The data which is sent to Apple isn’t tied to anything identifiable about your particular phone. As Apple puts it: “This data is sent to Apple in an anonymous and encrypted form. Apple cannot identify the source of this data.” Therefore, Apple is not tracking the location of your phone. It’s really as simple as that.

    The majority of the data in the consolidated.db database isn’t actually from your phone – it’s downloaded from Apple’s servers to your phone to speed up the process of any app which calls CoreLocation to determine where you are (which apps do with your explicit consent).

    To quote their release:

    “This data is not the iPhone’s location data—it is a subset (cache) of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database which is downloaded from Apple into the iPhone to assist the iPhone in rapidly and accurately calculating location.”

    And there would be no way for someone who gets hold of your phone, jailbreaks it, and grabs than database to determine which was data originating from you, and which from Apple. So they best “location” they could get for you is regional in scale – and even then, they couldn’t pin you down to a time.

     
  4. MJ Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    ““Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”
    Well, that depends on your definition of tracking.”
    Umm, they do say that your *phone* is tracking where it is. That sentence says *they* are not tracking you. Big difference. Your phone knows where you are, and you probably do too. But Apple doesn’t.

     
  5. Austin Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Statto, I have nothing to hide either, but location data is a security concern, not just a privacy… criminals can and will use data like this. I have an iPhone and I am not happy at all with Apple. And no, this is not confined to Apple either; other smartphone companies have also admitted similar practices.

     
  6. Paul Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    How does that Ofcom map compare with data from an iPhone? It would be good to see the two side by side.

     
  7. David Staples Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I too have nothing to hide, but I don’t like my personal moments being tracked (a) without my knowledge, (b) without my permission and (c) having the company involved, having been found out, then lie their asses off about it.

    “why do you (and every other company) want to know how old I am if I’m married, what my income is etc… is there a difference?”

    Yes. That information (if given) is given voluntarily and with my full knowledge.

    Are Apple becoming the new Microsoft? (In much the same way as Microsoft supplanted IBM as the computer world’s “hate figure.)

     
  8. Will Damien Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    The Unedifying Ignorance of PC Pro.

    The statement that “Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date” seems like an admission that not enough work had been done to allow customers understand why the phone behaves like it does. The Q&A looks to exist to address that balance by giving information on why the phone behaves the way it does. This is proven that the lack of a soundbite is point 2 in a list of 10. The 8 further points goes on to explain what can’t be said in one sentence.

    The iPhone SLA states in no uncertain terms that “The location data collected by Apple is collected in a form that does not personally identify you…”

    And as far as I have seen from the whole news story is that the issue is not with the phone personally tracking your every move and collecting data that has your name on it but the fact that the data is transferred back to the computer in an unencrypted form which can be interpreted and accessed.

    Oh and on that point Apple say that in a free software update, the iPhone will stop backing up that cache entirely.

    So I don’t know what the big deal is Barry. I haven’t yet seen a blog post on the Sony Fiasco yet… I wonder if thats because Sony is a client of Dennis Publishing?

    http://www.dennis.co.uk/client-solutions/case-studies/sony-ericsson-xperia

    I enjoy reading PC Pro because I believe that it carries an unbiased opinion on machines, technology and concepts. But the amount of Apple Bashing that goes on is going to push me away sooner or later.

     
  9. Barry Collins Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Will – can I ask you to listen to the first 10 minutes of this week’s podcast (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/111112/whats-on-this-weeks-pc-pro-podcast) before you start throwing around baseless accusations that we’re favouring advertisers?

    Barry Collins
    Editor

     
  10. Craig Dunn Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Well said Barry. I’ve intimated favouritism towards Apple in the past by PC Pro, mostly in reviews. So for @Will to accuse PC Pro of Apple bashing is quite laughable. PC Pro is merely highlighting Apple’s inexplicable disdain for their own brand ambassadors. Which, if most people are honest is more annoying than any data hording.

     
  11. Mikhael Michaelides Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    The solution? Don’t buy Apple?

    It’s interesting – all this Apple-bashing of late has made me think…

    Let’s go back about 10-odd years ago, Bill Gates was the favourite person that everyone loved to target/hate because of the billions he made. Yet the man gave away an *awful* lot to charities and I respect him a lot for that. Now that he’s stepped down to concentrate on those charities, we’ve had to pick someone else to target, so it’s Steve Jobs (and possibly with good reason too – there are times I have cursed his name when my iPhone starts to go on the blink… It’s an expensive piece of kit and I expect it to work *everytime*, no excuses).

    Is there a need in the IT industry to pick on the one company that appears to be doing pretty well, especially with a strong figurehead?

    Who’s next then? :^)

    Oh and before you ask, yes I do have Apple products (or rather one – an iPhone – and I’ve sometimes regretted that decision, namely when Apple release an update that suddenly makes my Altec Lansing speaker dock stop working – very unimpressed guys!), but no Mac (too expensive), although building a Hackintosh could be an interesting project, particularly as I’m about to become unemployed(!).

     
  12. Will Damien Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Barry,

    I’m not sure that the accusation is baseless. It would be baseless if you could link an blog to us where you have written about such a matter. In the very same podcast, you spoke about this Apple based issue, but you then felt compelled to draw in extra coverage to it by writing a blog post about it as-well. I would like to see the same treatment for your corporate partners! I am not suggesting that you are favouring advertisers- in fact I don’t see the word advertiser in my original post. I am suggesting that you are more careful about writing fully about CLIENTS. not Advertisers- but companies that have used Dennis to produce products for them.

    @Craig Dunn, I don’t disagree that PC Pro writes favourable reviews of Apple Products- and I don’t disagree that PC Pro readers don’t like that so much (see MacBook Air removed from A List as a result of reader pressure), but what I am saying is that blog posts around here can be very anti-apple and it gets boring. This is a non story really.

     
  13. Mikhael Michaelides Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    PS: I *LOVE* PC Pro – I’ve been an avid reader since Issue 1 and still enjoy reading all your articles/debates/rants :^) Keep going!!

    [... I sadly had to throw out a pile of back-issues a while back as I didn't have the room to keep them all - alas, maybe I should have put them up for auction on here!]

     
  14. Greemble Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    @Statto
    Really?
    1) you have nothing to hide – ok, so you’ll not mind being followed & watched. You’ll be happy with someone standing over your shoulder, observing you at work & home, writing down everything you say & the names of who you say it to?

    2) Yes, but check the concentration of data points. Easy enough to work out where you’re likely to be at a given time.

    3) So? This is about Apple. What anyone else is doing is irrelevant.

    4)Why should you care what anyone wants to know? Let them have it all, you have nothing to hide.

     
  15. Chris Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I think the reason Apple came out with the iPad 2 so swiftly was because of threats from competitor products. Everyone is in the market now and not everyone wants to buy Apple for the sake of it.

     
  16. Rob Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Typical Apple fanboy! Oh, wait! Nice one!

     
  17. Barry Collins Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Will – We’ve written three news stories on the Sony incident, none of which (I’m sure) would have Sony’s PR department punching the air in celebration.

    Commercial partnerships bear no relationship whatsoever on what the editorial team choose to cover.

    It’s simply unrealistic to expect that we’d give exactly equal coverage to every company in the market.

    Barry Collins
    Editor

     
  18. Statto Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    @Greemble
    I just don’t see why people are getting so worked up about this.
    1) they’re not doing that as far as I can see (though other companies and organisations might be)
    2) Nothing surprsing there. There are other (easier) ways to find out that I live in South East Wales, but cleary I never take my phone when I go to West Wales because there’s absolutely no data for that area.
    3) Is it?
    4) We live in a connected worl, and it’s going to get more connected not less. Get on or give up.

     
  19. Statto Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Oops – typos – apologies. Must do better :-)

     
  20. Peter Tennant Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I think it’s best for me not to wade into some of the bizarre accusations that are floating around on this blog. Instead I would simply like to thank Paul Ockenden for introducing the phrase, the “Andrew Lansley defence”, which made me laugh quite hysterically. I hope he doesn’t mind if I adopt the metaphor in the future?!

    In the eponymous example, the ‘Andrew Langley defence’ is a poor defence of a relatively simple set of proposals (which I, personally, believe are deeply flawed). In adopting this method, I also believe Apple is demonstrating an disappointing lack of respect for the average consumer (although, I fear many of their actual customers will not care for such esoteric details).

     
  21. Pinero Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    @Ian Betteridge

    Thankyou for providing a more balanced view of what’s going on, it helps to counter the more rabid nature of the original article.

     
  22. Barry Collins Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Ian – There are numerous blogs on the web where people using the iPhoneTracker application have reported that it gives a fairly strong indication of their whereabouts. See http://zuhaiblog.com/2011/04/2... and http://danielkennett.org/blog/... The latter, in particular, shows the route the chap took on a drive through Belgium and Germany.

    At no point, other than vague clauses in Apple’s 65-screen EULA, did anyone agree to this data being collected. To say that it doesn’t reveal the user’s whereabouts is utter tosh. To say that it doesn’t track the user’s movements is utter tosh.

    On your blog, you claim: “Apple took its time, determined what the issue was and how they could fix it, and spoke clearly about what the problem was.”

    No, it didn’t. It patronised its users by claiming the issue was “complex”, delivered half-truths by trying to play down the accuracy of the data collected (the 100 mile claim on mobile masts is ludicrous), and hasn’t issued any instructions to its customers about how they can remove or delete this data.

    Barry Collins
    Editor

     
  23. wittgenfrog Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I live in West Wales and (pretty accurately) the Ofcom tool fails to find any masts where i Live, so Apple would have no luck tracking me!

    More seriously all this blather about collecting tower data etc. to help the customer simply makes me laugh! Apple (and Google, and probably MS) collect data for their own ends, to make additional profits by selling us, or advertisers, or scammers, services and info.

     
  24. Fred Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Jeez, the apple apologists are out in force.

     
  25. Disco181 Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Barry, Ian,

    How old are you guys?

    Let’s face it, big companies always act like this. Their interests come first. Nothing new there.

    What is interesting is the shift in attitudes towards data collection and retention which I am guessing is a generational thing.

    So back to my original question…

    How old are you guys?

     
  26. Aspic Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Barry – well argued, salient blog post. Spot on. It is very telling that detractors in these comments can only resort to fairly irrelevant points that don’t really add to the debate, and are merely a somewhat transparent attempt to move it somewhere more comfortable to Apple.

     
  27. Kenny Hemphill Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Barry, there’s a reason why iPhoneTracker gives a fairly strong indication of user’s whereabouts. Apple said that consolidated.db is an ‘appropriate subset’ of the larger, crowd-sourced database.

    In order for it to be appropriate, and useful, it needs to contain data from locations visited regularly by that iPhone. There wouldn’t be much point having a completely random subset.

     
  28. simon Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    You can choose not to use Apple products. Some of us who use the iPhone really don’t care about all this, myself being one of them.

    Visa tracks where you use your debit card, they can also track your whereabouts, do you care NO.

    It’s like those idiots who refuse to sign up to a nectar card and then pay with a debit card using the excuse, I don’t want to be tracked. A. You are being tracked by your debit card and B. You are turning down free money.

    If you truly don’t want to be traced at all don’t use the internet, don’t get a bank account and don’t leave your house.

    Otherwise…. STOP COMPLAINING !

     
  29. Ihsan Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    @Will, I wouldn’t worry too much about the Apple bashing, pcpro have been playing that angle for a while now and it serves them well. Your insight into the matter proves precisely Apple’s point that the issues ARE too complex for most to understand, perhaps even for certain bloggers to take this in the appropriate context & perspective..

    Taking the contrarian view & bending over backwards to appear unbiased and to placate their target audience (droids) is hardly surprising & no doubt whips up a storm of traffic for them.

    Most people will take a more reasonable stance on this so just give it a week or 2 and this ‘molehill’ of an issue will have been replaced by the next biased bout of bashing. Tedious I know but do keep commenting, someone has to provide the balance/perspective!

     
  30. Andy Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Brilliantly written article. I don’t care whether you are bothered or not about Apple tracking you. Its the shear arrogance of the company over this, and other issues, that ensure I will not be buying one of their products.

    We ALL make mistakes, the hard thing to do is admitting to them, and then sorting them out.

     
  31. Craig Dunn Says:
    April 29th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    @Andy
    Exactly. Working in marketing it’s becoming harder and harder to convince people to purchase products or services. Once you get them you want to take care of them, because it will cost you more than double to get them back again. I guess Apple, because they’ve sold so many items believe that a percentage will always be unhappy and in the greater scheme of things, not worth bothering about. However, recent research shows that consumers are being more and more savvy about who they purchase products from. Researching customer feedback, researching company ethics and social media buzz. As said before, Apples products are well marketed, they have loyal supporters. But most supporters are also relatively tech savvy. Mess them about about they’ll be quickly onto the social web to tell others about it… This blog post being a prime example.

     
  32. kevin Says:
    April 29th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    there’s a lot of apple fan boys here
    blinded steve jobs spin

     
  33. Paul Says:
    April 29th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Wondering where my comment has gone. Hmm…

    I would very much like to see a map of the iPhone data gathered for the same location as the map above. I think publishing one without the other is not helping the argument one way or the other. If the iPhone map data matches the Ofcom map, then good – we know the “resolution” of the data the iPhone gathers.

    However, if the iPhone map has data at a lower data “resolution” than the Ofcom map, then it seems that the arguments about accurate tracking carries less weight.

    Here are my thoughts on the matter, complete with two maps based on the data my iPhone gathers.

    http://hairydalek.posterous.com/where-am-i

    As you can see, it’s very hard to tell exactly where I was in either case. In fact, if you rely solely on the iPhone data for anything other than passing curiosity, then you really need to find something better to do with your time.

     
  34. Waderider Says:
    April 30th, 2011 at 7:13 am

    I don’t think Apple will ever grow their market share beyond a certain point because of their attitude and pricing. Maybe that’s what they want – a smaller share of the market, that lasts longer in the fast moving world of technology. They’ll last longer because of the air of exclusivity and the cultured image of invincibility/”Apple-can-do-no-wrong”. Personally I just think they are crap, and some of their customers are incapable of joined up thinking i.e. good consumers.

     
  35. Aspic Says:
    May 1st, 2011 at 11:09 am

    @Waderider

    Interesting observation and I think you’re right. Apple only need a small proportion of the market, but with a very dedicated fanbase. As long as they can maintain the sleek looks, they can pretty much guarantee that such folk will buy their products, regardless of price or quality hence providing a core level of income. A good business model.

     
  36. jontym123 Says:
    May 2nd, 2011 at 10:18 am

    @Waderider and @Aspic
    Couldn’t agree more. When spending Most of the time it is exactly the same hardware in Apple devices as in PCs and when I am spending MY money I really don’t understand the ‘getting on twice the price’ Apple philosophy. So, luddiet that I am, I am probably the only person in the world that owns an iNothing. I have zilch with an Apple logo. I don’t even get my music from that overpriced iTunes store. And whilst I am at it I really cannot fathom the value in a claim that there are 300 zillion apps for my iP{ad/iPhone. If there are that many then the vast majoprity must be hugely trivial in the extreme. Yours sincerely, definitely NOT a fanboy or sucker!

     
  37. jontym123 Says:
    May 2nd, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Sorry. Finger trouble. Spurious “When spending” in there; typo in Luddite;

     
  38. wittgenfrog Says:
    May 3rd, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    It ain’t being tracked, its being patronised that annoys!!!

     
  39. Damian Says:
    May 4th, 2011 at 9:28 am

    If it costs YOU money for Apple to send the data over, then it’s wrong and the option to turn off tracking should do just that.

     
  40. isileth Says:
    May 5th, 2011 at 7:29 am

    This attitude towards customers is one of the reasons why I don’t own Apple products.
    They make good products, but I don’t like how they treat customers.
    One thing I don’t understand is why if MS does something is always wrong, if Apple does it, is right.
    As for “I have nothing to hide so I don’t care if they are tracking me”, I answer “I have nothing to hide, too, but it’s my life and I don’t want to be spied.”
    A big thank to Barry for this post.

     
  41. JulesLt Says:
    May 5th, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Yawn. The point is that contrary to headlines, Apple (and Android) are NOT remotely tracking your movements, and the explanation of what going on was quite clear – but obviously it was too technically complicated for most tech journalists to understand, given their responses – which kind of justifies the ‘technically complicated’ answer.

    It was a combination of bugs – none of which should have happened – but then having just spent 4 days fixing a 10 year old bug in our system (which I’d been assured by 2 other programmers was a problem with Oracle, not us) I’ve every sympathy for them.

    (All mobile phones are tracked by your telco as a matter of legislation anyway)

     
  42. William Says:
    May 5th, 2011 at 9:13 am

    What a horrible attitude you have to Apple’s perfectly valid attempt to explain the situation… to a level that 99.9% of us are interested in.
    Conspiracy theorists like you are in your own little world of problems that hardly affect anyone.
    I don’t mind you calling into question the issue, but it’s your venom that I dislike and I am glad I no longer subscribe to your publication.

     
  43. John Ross Says:
    May 5th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Much of the comment on this (good) article concentrates on tracking, and less on arrogance. Apple have become the BMW of the IT market – quality and design assured, but for the consumers it becomes a way of parading their belonging to a select club. Most BMW drivers don’t want to test drive their car before purchase – they just want the badge and what it conveys to their peers. Apple products and software are the same.
    Naturally, this engenders arrogance born of confidence in being the best, and it rubs off onto the consumers. My employer organisation (a multinational) has introduced an app bank concept for employees’ mobile devices, intended to cultivate an in-house repository of business-beneficial apps. Great idea. Prerequisites? Ah – you have to have an apple device, and they won’t provide it for you (as they would a laptop, for instance) – you have to buy one. Does the app bank provide for other OS platforms? Er, yes, we’ll be introducing Android and Windows Mobile soon. But meantime, they’ve gone live anyway. Arrogance, unique to apple and their kind; and Barry you are right to remind us of it. Good they may be, but sometimes they get things wrong and we should be watchful before it’s us that is impacted by their cocky swagger.

     
  44. nyghtowl Says:
    May 5th, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Statto Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 1:19 pm
    Calm down dear.
    1) I don’t care, I’ve got nothing to hide
    2) my “location data” shows all sorts of places I know I’ve (or my phone – unless it wasn’t a new one – it was) definitely never been.
    3) what are the chances that other technical gizmos track similar info (quite high?)
    4) why do you (and every other company) want to know how old I am if I’m married, what my income is etc…is there a difference?

    Read more: The unedifying arrogance of Apple | PC Pro blog http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2011/04/28/the-unedifying-arrogance-of-apple/?DCMP=NLC-Newsletters#ixzz1LTRhtpBd

    Calm down? Lol – it is a perfectly acceptable portrayal of the facts.

    You know… you really *should* care about things like this, but I’ll leave to to you to discover the reasons for yourself.

    OT – an absolutely brilliant article.

     
  45. Declan Moriarty Says:
    May 5th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    If this data is mobile base station (cell tower)/ wi-fi hotspot location data NOT your phones location why does it have to go to Apple anyway? If it is helping the AGPS to get a better fix when you first start GPS location service then why does Apple have to have any data sent to then? Your mobile operator has to track your phone in order for it to work. The phone has to know which cell tower it is using and be able to hand off to another one if you are moving while using the phone. This data would be known to the OS anyway, all mobile phones have done this since the beginning of digital mobile phone services. If this location data was encrypted and had been decrypted then there would be an all mighty row the like of which would put this incident in the shade.

    The first I heard about this was on Radio 4 and I think (Privacy International?) had filed law suits in Europe and the US about this particularly California. It will be interesting to see what happens with these.

    @Waderider and @Aspic re: Apple concentrating on Niche markets. They don’t with iPods! iPods are the predominant mp3 music player on the market. Just go into any electronic shop and look for the iPod docks. There aren’t any Creative or iAudio docks on sale!

    I have an iMac that is much better than a PC. It is silent. I am registered blind and having built in magnification and a built in screen reader (if I need it) free with the Mac is well worth it. I don’t have an iPhone or and iPod.

    You have to wonder about Apples attitude. There problem with Flash is not good. Also no Blu-ray or USB3 on iMacs is very worrying.

    While Windows Vista was doing the rounds, the iMac seemed quit a good idea. However as Blu-ray becomes more popular and flash is still popular on web sites and USB3 takes over these decisions will become increasingly indefensible.

    I don’t think Apple will be around in 30 years time or there abbots because all their products are made in China and the companies that make them will demand their logos on the products and will want control of the OS. Look what has happened to IBM PC’s. They were probably made by Lenovo for donkeys years before the PC devision was sold to Lenovo.

    This Location Data debacle is a pity as the iPhone is very good. It has built in magnification and Voice Over Screenreader, but most important the buying experience in the UK is marvellous! If you are registered blind you can buy an iPhone and know that you will be able to use it. With other mobile phones you can’t try them out in the shop before you buy because they don’t have Access Technology on them. The shops don’t know anything about Access Tech. More importantly the mobile operators won’t take responsibility if the Access Tech doesn’t work. You have to go to specialist mail order suppliers if you want an Accessible mobile phone. Only VodaPhone will subsidise a screenreader with symbian phones.

    Thank God for Android. However Android doesn’t come with Access totally built in. You have to download the screenreader before it will work. This is free which is good.

    Android isn’t as good as the iPhone because the iPhone has everything built in and you can try the iPhone out in an Applestore before you buy.

    The point about the mobile operator taking responsibility is important in that you have to sign a lengthy contract if you are buying a contract phone and it therefore becomes difficult to get out of it if things like Access Tech don’t work.

    The RNIB recognises this problem in that they have “Phone Nights” up in London where you can go to have various smart phones demonstrated. Why should they have to do this? It is a scandal that the Mobile Phone Operators/Shops are so Blind Hostile in the UK!

     
  46. Ivan Says:
    May 5th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Well, I believe it’s a “very complex technical issue”. For Apple. For them is programming of a functional alarm clock for their phones way over their heads, never mind tracking the phone location.

     
  47. beegeeay Says:
    May 6th, 2011 at 12:58 am

    For me, I agree with Barry Collins and some other commentators. It isn’t that I don’t like the products or that they are too expensive either that stops me from buying Apple.

    It’s that their attitude to questions or complaints is atrocious. I now make 50% of my buying decision on how a company’s customer services / PR media is shown to act and deal with its customers.

    In the end, a company’s products/services are only really as good as how they treat YOU the customer, when Something Goes Wrong ie: Apple – Antennagate et al, Toyota / Nissan / Volvo car recalls, and then Sony in general – their issues getting too numerous to list.

     
  48. mr wensleydale Says:
    May 6th, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    the customers are the arrogant ones TBH

     
  49. Alan Smithie Says:
    May 9th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    FWIW…

    This post has moved on to perhaps another area. I originally read it wondering if anything else would be raised over Apple’s ethics.

    Being someone who has also worked in marketing (and currently looking for a job… Craig…?), the issue over consumer savvy is vital. I have never bought an Apple device of any kind due to knowing how computers work and wanting the ability to mod as and when required.

    I am not easily patronised so will never buy anything on style if its style affects its ability to do its job properly. That has always been Apple’s biggest problem: style over function. Such as was proven to me buy me friends suffering repeatedly over iPhone crashes. I’ve never had a crashed Windows Mobile (maybe just blessed, but that’s probably because I’m a priest, too…).

    But the issue of ethics and buying power is serious. I agree that some consumers are becoming more aware. But any conversation of Apple and ethics must surely include Foxconn? When I discovered that little appalling gem, it ratified for me the suspicion I had for Apple.

    Arrogance and the willing denial of human rights is prevalent the more money and power you have. As is being seen with Obama’s deteriorating administration (but that’s another conversation completely…)

    The fact that wealthy (often US) multinationals can casually sweep aside the concerns of millions of people, even when it concerns the deaths of those working for them, is worrying in the extreme and should herald boycotting.

    FWIW…

     
  50. Alan Smithie Says:
    May 9th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Blast…

    Suffering the same typo issues as others round here…

    Sorry.

     
  51. William Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:27 am

    @Alan… I know how computers work too funnily enough, and Apple’s do just fine thanks.
    You’re only denying yourself if you think they’re form over function.
    Good luck “modding” Windows Mobile “as and when required”.

     
  52. Alan Smithie Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Thanks William.

    As said, I don’t have to. It does just fine, thanks…

    And thanks for thinking I’m stylish. That’s very kind of you. The content’s there, you’ve just got to look a bit deeper.

    Btw, may I ask I question: does endorsing those who willingly exploit the rights of other human beings not clash with your piano-black finish?

     
  53. William Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    @Alan…. You’re trying to be far too obtuse & clever…… It doesn’t work.
    Where did I say you’re stylish exactly?
    Are you sure MS doesn’t exploit anyone?

     
  54. Alan Smithie Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Oh dear. This is descending into parody and the sort of response we’ll get off Disco181, soon…

    Best check a dictionary for the observation that you accused me of just then. Obtuse and clever are opposites.

    As for the clarity, your grammar could lead the sentence to read as if I’m denying my persona. Which when read could mean you were implying it was I who was exercising considerable form.

    For which I thank you.

    You could, of course, have been meaning I was denying myself an object of your desire but it helps if you said that.

    Toodle-pip.

     
  55. Alan Smithie Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Oh, btw, you never did answer my question over why you endorse a company that continues to maintain its contract with an employer whose workers committed suicide because of its practices.

    Apple did not buy themselves out of a contract but maintained the one thay had with Foxconn, just paid a bit extra in sympathy money after they had been found out. That is not an appropriate level of ethical concern from an employer.

    As for MS, I’m unaware they have had anyone commit suicide because of human rights abuses. It would be helpful if you could supply non-libelous information to the contrary so I can revise my own buying policies.

    Two-dle-pip.

     
  56. William Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    @Alan…. Oh come on, you live in you’re own little world there. Your take on definition and grammar are just your own.

    I don’t have to defend Apple’s contracts, nor do I think your understanding of them can approach any kind of accuracy…. unless of course you are one of the lawyers on the case and not just reading the press (don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical).

    You are clearly argumentative, self congratulating, deluded, and not worthy of my further response, which you are clearly trolling to get out of me.

    toodle-pip yourself.

     
  57. Barry Collins Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    William/Alan – a reminder to keep your posts civil and on-topic, or else we’ll block future posts.

    Thanks

    Barry Collins
    Editor

     
  58. Alan Smithie Says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Apologies Barry, thanks.

    Given this began about Apple and arrogance, do you have anything more to add about ethics?

     
  59. Randalynn Says:
    May 11th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    The entire controversy is ludicrous. Don’t you think these companies have better things to do then track individuals? The reasons they collected that information had nothing to do with Machiavellian plans for world domination by discovering one of their iPhone users had a bagel and coffee at the Einstein Bagels at the corner of Fifth and Dupree. Apple is doing just what they said, collecting data to improve their network database. If you’re really worried that you’re being watched, here’s an aluminum foil hat with your name on it. The entire world has drunk the media KoolAid full of fear, uncertainty and doubt, so everyone starts jumping to the conclusion that Steve Jobs is some kind of Bond villain with the need to keep tabs on EVERY customer. Come on, people. It’s called perspective. *sigh* Get some, please?

     

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