Apple CEO Tim Cook: Unlike other companies, we don't want your data, just your money

The Apple chief laid out a pragmatic argument in favour of Apple's approach to privacy: 'Our business is based on selling iPhones, not information'

James Vincent
Tuesday 16 September 2014 15:05 BST
Apple's 'Titan project' was reportedly signed off almost a year ago by Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook
Apple's 'Titan project' was reportedly signed off almost a year ago by Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook has hit out against accusations that his company is a liability to users, saying that unlike other companies, the iPhone maker has no interest in collecting customers' data.

“We’ve taken a very different view of this than a lot of other companies have,” Mr Cook told US journalist Charlie Rose in an interview. “Our view is when we design a new service we try not to collect data.”

Mr Cook added that the company did not want to become a “treasure trove” of data for the National Security Agency (NSA), using the companys messages app as an example: “If the government laid a subpoena on us to get your iMessages, we can’t provide it – it’s encrypted and we don’t have the key. The door is closed.”

Mr Cook also referred to Apple Pay – the company’s newly-announced contactless payment system – saying that when it came to users’ credit card data: “We don’t want it. We’re not in that business.”

In his comments Mr Cook did not reference other companies directly, but urged viewers to think about how technology giants made their money. “If they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data I think you have a right to be worried.”

By contrast, Apple’s profits mostly come from its electronics,which the company sells with lucrative profit margins. Although Apple is often criticized for its high prices, Mr Cook argued that this means the company does not have to collect data to make money.

“Our business is based on selling these [iPhones], our business is not based on having information about you," he said.

Mr Cook also addressed the iCloud breach in the interview, saying that the service “wasn’t hacked” but that celebrities had had their passwords stolen, most likely by phishing attacks which Mr Cook described as “not just an Apple issue. This is an internet issue.”

Apple's products also came up during the course of the interview, with Mr Cook saying that the company could have "done a larger iPhone years ago" but that the company's mantra was to "ship things when they're ready", and that - of course - the company was working on "blow-away" products that "haven't been rumoured about yet".

Despite these promises, not all of Mr Cook's comments hit the mark. His discussion of Apple's acquisition of headphone and music-streaming business Beats praised the company's capacity for "human curation" but omitted the fact that Apple had dumped a copy of U2's latest album into iTunes accounts the world over - without a thought about whether the user actually wanted it.

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