The Verge: 'Tim Cook brings a knife to a cloud fight'

Thomas Ricker, writing a piece that embodies The Verge's continual circling of the proverbial drain, as far as being a producer of quality content goes. In an asinine diatribe, Ricker tries his damnedest to downplay the privacy concerns that Google's services evoke. There's no single quote in the entire article that accurately conveys the complete jackassery in here, so I guess it's worthwhile to dissect the whole thing. Or maybe it's not. Who knows?

After a brief introduction about Tim Cook's stance on privacy with regards to "these so-called free services," Ricker starts with a bang (emphasis mine):

This statement, in my admittedly cynical opinion, is FUD — an effort to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Cook and co. might truly believe it, but this is a thinly veiled lobbying effort to make us question the very business model of its competitors. It’s not as in your face as Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign, but it’s undoubtedly a calculated message — Apple executives don’t shoot from the hip when speaking in public on the company’s behalf.

Okay, good. At least he's honest about where he's coming from. The entire article is chock full of cynical nonsense, although interestingly none of that cynicism gets applied to Google at all.

Cook’s words are meant to sow suspicion because trust is vital in the fight for the cloud. On one hand, you have businesses like Facebook and Google that profit from an advertising-based business model (the "you are the product" camp), and companies like Apple that profit largely off of hardware sales (the "you are the customer" camp). In other words, you can trust Apple with all your data but not Google or Facebook.

Yes, that's exactly why you're supposed to be suspicious of Google or Facebook and exactly why a company like Apple would be more trustworthy with your data. They have no interest in making your data available to others. Their whole model depends on you being able to trust them. Google and Facebook parse everything about you and profit by making data about you available to advertisers. Maybe they're not selling off your Social Security number, but they're taking the digital embodiment of your person and cashing in on it.

Fact is, Apple is behind on web services.

This is literally his next sentence, which really starts to get to the meat of Ricker's problem with Tim Cook: "Google's software is more convenient for me and I don't like that Tim is making me consider the greater price." There is such a tenuous link between his last paragraph and what he's starting to say here, that what suddenly becomes clear is that Ricker's admitted cynicism is driving him to accuse Tim Cook of being dishonest about his intentions regarding privacy. In this scenario, Apple is so far behind in web services that Tim Cook is jealous of Google and casts aspersions merely out of spite, not because of an adherence to his own moral compass (the very thing I wrote about yesterday).

Fact is, "Apple's not good at web services," is a tired meme vomited out by uncreative people that would rather regurgitate than report. Their web services have improved considerably. iCloud Drive shows this, iCloud syncing and their backups have never steered me wrong, and I'd argue that Photos is the true posterchild of their syncing prowess. It has absolutely stayed true to their "it just works" mentality, launching with what appears to be little to no issues.

Its highly successful strategy of using iTunes software to create a digital hub in the home sold a lot of Apple hardware. But it also left the company woefully ill prepared [sic] to provide cloud computing in the post PC era.

So woefully ill-prepared that they continue to show unprecedented growth in hardware sales year after year. Mac sales continue to grow in an industry where other PC manufacturers continue to decline. Who knew that the iTunes hub halo effect would persist for so long? Considering Apple's absolutely woeful web services, it's a wonder how their Internet-enabled devices continue to function at all. I'm sure next quarter people will finally realize it's time to drop the zero and get with the hero.

iCloud continues to stumble forward like a neglected toddler.


Birthed as .Mac in 2002, it awkwardly transitioned into MobileMe (remember iTunes Ping in 2010?)

What the fuck does Ping have anything to do with MobileMe or iCloud in the first place? So I guess Ricker's grasping at straws for cheap jabs now. Okay.

Anyone remember Google Wave? Google Reader? Google TV? Orkut? Maybe Google+ soon? I mean, as long as we're just listing services unrelated to the topic at hand that each company has decided to shut down.

before completely embarrassing itself with the "celebgate" scandal of 2014.

That incident was a horrendous breach of personal information, and violated many people who didn't deserve to have themselves exposed in such a heinous way. However, saying that this was iCloud "completely embarrassing itself" is a stretch. This was a highly-targeted campaign of social engineering that retrieved passwords of users and gained access to sensitive information that way. This was not a group of suave hackers that exploited some janky, slapdash server infrastructure. Apple had two-factor authentication at that time (and has only become more focused on providing more education around it since). This type of malicious attack could have occurred on any service.

Actually, let's consider how good Apple's encryption (and by extension, the privacy it provides) is by looking at the instances where it has been publicly criticized by law enforcement who would otherwise love to gain unfettered access to user data.

Embarrassing, indeed.

Ricker's argument takes a turn toward the end (emphasis, again, mine):

People who want privacy — that truly want it — should fight for it. Nobody’s questioning that. But many will sacrifice a sense of privacy for a better or more convenient experience.

There it is. So this isn't about Tim Cook being a petty hypocrite after all. Instead, Ricker just feels the need to defend his choice of convenience over privacy. He goes on to tell a brief story that describes how his friend ultimately settled on choosing a convenient solution over one that she felt was right.

Convenience won. For her, the chemical solution was better even with the risks.

Riding a bike is more pleasurable without a helmet. I won't even start on copulation.

Arguably, Google Maps is better than Apple Maps, Gmail is better than Apple Mail, Google Drive is better than iCloud, Google Docs is better than iWork, and Google Photos can "surprise and delight" better than Apple Photos. Even with the risks.

He doesn't back any of that up with anything, except for the part where he links to another one of his articles from a couple days prior, in which he actually says (emphasis continues to be mine):

I haven’t committed my entire photo collection to Google Photos for two reasons: 1) because the free, unlimited storage option would compress my library of RAW images, and 2) I’m not sure I trust Google with all the data it would cull from a lifetime of my personal photos.


He concludes:

If Apple truly cares about our privacy then it should stop talking about how important it is and start building superior cloud-based services we want to use — then it can protect us.

They already are, and just because it's not as immediately convenient for you as the "free" services Google provides doesn't mean that people should have to sacrifice protection. Apple's tackling both of those things at once, not trading one for the other.

Oh, and then he (I shit you not) quotes Tony Stark:

That's how Dad did it, that's how America does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far.

Says Tony Stark in Iron Man before he experiences first hand the horrors that his inventions rain down upon the innocent, a realization which causes him to devote the rest of his life's work to make up for the devastation and destruction his company single-handedly caused.