You might recall that last September Apple rolled up a new privacy page where they said this among other things:
Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.
At the time, I thought this was a swipe at Google. But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg clearly feels this is a shot at Facebook. In an interview with Time Magazine this past Thursday he had this to say:
“A frustration I have is that a lot of people increasingly seem to equate an advertising business model with somehow being out of alignment with your customers,” Zuckerberg says. “I think it’s the most ridiculous concept. What, you think because you’re paying Apple that you’re somehow in alignment with them? If you were in alignment with them, then they’d make their products a lot cheaper!”
Clearly the Apple privacy page stings because he has a business built around harvesting and selling as much data about you as possible so that you can use Facebook for free. That’s something that he confirms when he talks about upstart social networking site Ello:
I asked him about Ello, an upstart for-pay social network built on the premise that it doesn’t show you ads and doesn’t harvest your personal information. When a social network does those things, Ello’s manifesto argues, “You’re the product that’s being bought and sold.” Zuckerberg’s take was, as usual, practical: whatever ethical merits it might have, the business model won’t scale. “Our mission is to connect every person in the world. You don’t do that by having a service people pay for.” I suggest that Facebook’s users are paying, just with their attention and their personal information instead of with cash. A publicist changes the subject.
At least the publicist was smart enough to change the subject to try and keep Zuckerberg from highlighting the fact that you are indeed the product if you use Facebook. I for one do not wish to be the product if I can possibly avoid it. Thus I do not use Facebook nor will I ever use Facebook. Tim Cook has got this one nailed. If you are using something for free, then chances are that you are the product and the real customers are the advertisers.
The truth hurts doesn’t it Mark?