Zuck to Cook: Bite me


Mark Zuckerberg accuses Apple of “just serving rich people” and calls Tim Cook’s critique of Facebook’s business model “not at all aligned with the truth.”

From the transcript of Monday’s The Ezra Kline Show on Vox:

Klein: Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, gave an interview the other day and he was asked what he would do if he was in your shoes. He said, “I wouldn’t be in this situation,” and argued that Apple sells products to users, it doesn’t sell users to advertisers, and so it’s a sounder business model that doesn’t open itself to these problems.

Zuckerberg: You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib. And not at all aligned with the truth. The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people…

If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford. I thought Jeff Bezos had an excellent saying on this in one of his Kindle launches a number of years back. He said, “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.”

My take: A well-crafted burn. I wonder who wrote it.

See also: Tim Cook: There oughta be a law against Facebook’s business model

32 Comments

  1. David Emery said:

    Then there are companies that work hard to steal from you to sell to their customers, and justify it because the product doesn’t have to pay to be screwed.

    The more Zuckerberg talks, the less I think of him.

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    April 2, 2018
    • John Blackburn said:

      Robert Heinlein coined the term “TANSTAAFL” for “there aint’ no such thing as a free lunch”. The sophistry here is the notion of giving poor users something for nothing, like altruism, knowing that the tradeoff those poor users are making—swapping personal data for usage—is beyond the understanding of many and, furthermore, is separated by time and distance. It’s exploitation, plain and simple.

      The practice cannot honestly be defended with traditional media’s earlier reliance on ads either, since both scale and granularity of harvested data represent a qualitative change.

      TANSTAAFL.

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      April 2, 2018
  2. Ken Cheng said:

    Given that without the rise of the iPhone and subsequent apps, Facebook wouldn’t have the worldwide reach it does today, you’d think Zuckerburg would just take the high road, bite his tongue and take his medicine. When you’ve done wrong, you’re going to takes some slings and arrows. Just take it and move on.

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    April 2, 2018
  3. Fred Stein said:

    Loan sharks, payday lenders, etc. serve the needs of the poor as well. I’m not entirely facetious. The vast majority of the world is unbanked or ‘under-banked, but they need some financial services. All business serve and exploit their customers to some degree.Top management must fine tune that balance. There’s no moral purity.

    Zuck’s comment about Apple only serving the rich is, as Zuck put it, “not at all aligned with the truth.” I see iPhones owners who aren’t rich. That installed base of 1.3 billion Apple devices includes a lot a used iPhones.

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    April 2, 2018
  4. John Kirk said:

    “If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford.”

    Apple and many other companies are fountainheads. The first of most anything — steamships, turbines, air conditioning, Microwaves, VCRs, cars, smartphones — even things like books — were originally prohibitively expensive. The rich pay for developing the product and eventually costs are reduced and the value is spread to lower-income individuals. If you had tried to provide air-conditioning to the masses in 1920, you would have bankrupted the country.

    Criticizing Apple for making products that are unaffordable to the masses is like criticizing Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press for not making books available to to the masses. It did eventually. But it took 500 years. If we insist on all products being affordable or free when they initially appear on the market, few innovative products would ever see the light of day.

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    April 2, 2018
  5. John Kirk said:

    “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.”

    Beware dichotomies. It’s not either-or. There are business models that charge more and provide more. Just because Jeff Bezos says that there are only two types of companies doesn’t make it so. In fact, you only have to go to a mall to see that it’s demonstrably wrong. There are many, many business models that don’t fit within those constraints.

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    April 2, 2018
  6. Richard Wanderman said:

    Zuck is learning from Trump: Deflection.

    The rich/poor argument is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that Zuck allowed his model to get out of hand and information was gathered and sold on people who didn’t agree to it. But, the folks who took the personality quiz also didn’t know that their quiz results were going to be sold to Cambridge Analytica.

    And, Zuck took CA’s word that they got rid of the accumulated data.

    This is not a way to do business and the only reason Facebook isn’t imploding right now is because it’s users don’t really get it, or, if they get it, they don’t care. And, this is part of the problem as well.

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    April 2, 2018
    • Tommo_UK said:

      The reason it isn’t imploding is because of TINA for big data. – “There Is No Alternative.” Facebook must be defended at all costs.

      Until the NSA and DoD can help fund a replacement of course.

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      April 2, 2018
  7. Gianfranco Pedron said:

    “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.” – Amazon – Jeff Bezos

    “Pay me now or pay me later” – FRAM filters

    Sometimes the true cost isn’t immediately obvious.

    In the case of Facebook, the devaluation of our democratic system, whether real or perceived, turns out to be one of the costs of the “free” service. That’s one heck of a price to pay no matter whether you’re rich or poor.

    As for Amazon, the true cost of its service is deferred, pushed down the road until a point is reached when the damage to the global retail system and the jobs it offers can no longer be ignored.

    Just like offshore manufacturing and inexpensive imports have sustained a “middle class” lifestyle during decades of declining productivity and the resulting relative stagnation in earning power, the real and accumulating costs have been masked by the much advertised illusions of “free” and “cheap”.

    A day of reckoning will come. I hope it doesn’t all collapse at once.

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    April 2, 2018
  8. Gregg Thurman said:

    What happens if Apple creates a “bundle of services” that includes Apple Music, Apple “Movies” that costs $25/month, then a year or so later introduces a “free” social media service that combines the utility of Facebook and Instagram, with the motto “We don’t sell your personal data”.

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    April 2, 2018
    • David Emery said:

      Apple would be lambasted for creating “yet another closed garden” (whether it’s true or not….)

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      April 2, 2018
    • Tommo_UK said:

      Apple has tried walled garden social networks in the past.. I’m old enough to remember it. It was in the days of AOL dial-up and it was “curated” to ensure it was fit for ‘polite consumption.’

      In other words it was an #epicfail

      Apple doesn’t need to get into social networks. They need Apple to exist. Given the demographic of users of iOS vs android, can you imagine Facebook if you removed all iOS users? Financial ruin. Apple should stick to what it does best, building vertically integrated stacks of hardware and software which inter connect.

      Facebook should rememember myspace.

      Who?

      Exactly.

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      April 2, 2018
      • Richard Wanderman said:

        eWorld. I worked on eWorld for Apple. I ran both the Mac user group and the HyperCard user group on AOL and Apple recruited me to do same for eWorld. It was a disaster and while I was glad to help out, it was so poorly run and designed it was embarrassing.

        As you say, #epicfail.

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        April 2, 2018
          • Richard Wanderman said:

            Thanks for the kind word. No Knighthood here, just a lowly pawn in the big picture who got across the board and back in one piece.

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            April 2, 2018
        • Ken Cheng said:

          Cool, I remember when I got that eWorld disk, MWSF ’94. I vaguely recall that was the show where Sculley intro’d the Newton, or maybe I’m mixing up years

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          April 2, 2018
          • Tommo_UK said:

            Ahhh the Newton 2001 ! I found mine the other day… it still works, all the apps and data are intact and it booted up `(minus backlight) perfectly,.
            Frankly it still amazes me how advanced the technology was, and how useful it was. Way before it’s time due to production costs and complexity – and a market not ready for it – it was the iPad of its day, which together with a data card you could use to access email, the web, and even send faxes on the go.
            I loved the Newton, but didn’t shed a tear at its demise. Like the Lisa, it was too much, too early, at too high a price.

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            April 2, 2018
            • Ken Cheng said:

              Mine looked new the last time I saw it. It’s in a box somewhere.

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              April 2, 2018
  9. Paul Chou said:

    I found the rich/poor comment to be self-serving and irrelevant. At the end of the day it’s just different business models and I would venture to say Zuckerberg is more concerned with growth at all cost than servicing a particular customer base, per se.

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    April 2, 2018
  10. Tommo_UK said:

    Zuckerberg… a spoilt brat who mocks his customers in the most reprehensible terms and views them with nothing but disdain, as his own quotes and company exececutve emails show.
    He’s reaping what he sowed: a popular backlash by people empowered to call him out for the lizard he is.
    He couldn’t give a hoot about anything except his reputation, which is his chief obsession. You only have to watch the propaganda film masquerading as a movie, The Social Network, which is something Goebbels would have been proud of, to see how desperate he is to whitewash the company’s roots, its deep state backers, and its slavish devotion to serving “big data” even if, to paraphrase the comments of a senior Facebook exec, it meant the death of someone.
    As a psychologist I’d say there’s clear evidence Zuckerberg has sociopathic tendencies and his obsesssion with Facebook is a demonstration of his need to `learn’ empathy as opposed to possessing it as a character strength. This makes for a very weak individual, defensive, and prone to delusions of grandeur to compensate for feelings of inadequacy.
    /amateur psychology hour over

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    April 2, 2018
    • Richard Wanderman said:

      I didn’t think The Social Network was pro-Facebook at all. It made Zuckerberg look like an ass IMHO. I liked the movie very much even as I dislike FB and Zuck (I don’t have a FB account).

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      April 2, 2018
      • Tommo_UK said:

        You’re dead right – it made him look like an an ass. But only an ass. The script and collaboration was agreed In order not to expose the whole truth (which would have had horrific implications for several individuals, politicians, Valley figures and the security services, not to mention destroying the company) rather than to be the “real” deal.

        It played on the world’s cognitive bias to want to believe Zuckerberg is an ass and FB is a bit shady, whilst concealing the real extent of that truth behind the thin veneer of a fairly lame Hollywood production.

        There’s a good reason Zuckerberg is so quiet and lacklustre in his response to this current scandal. It’s not his call to formulate the response but it’s his neck on the line because he can’t reveal the truth behind the company and its operations, even while they unfurl around him. He’s not in control, I’m any sense of the word. This isn’t conspiracy theory talk, it just is what it is and the paper trail is well documented for anyone who wants to bother doing research (a rather unfashionable pastime these days admittedly).
        These days, people would rather keep their jobs, careers, and maybe even their lives than win a Pulitzer.

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        April 2, 2018
        • Richard Wanderman said:

          So, what exactly is the whole truth? I’d love to hear about it.

          I mean beyond what we already know from the press about CA, Mercer, Thiel, and Murdoch.

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          April 2, 2018
          • Tommo_UK said:

            Lol I’d rather keep my US entry-visa than discuss this in public.

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            April 3, 2018
  11. Robert Martin said:

    When Facebook was caught manipulating the emotions of 600,000 people without their consent, the company should have been called to task. Instead, these techniques were weaponized and undermined both our presidential elections and Brexit. Channel 4 in the UK has documented this and the series is available online. Let them sell ads, but let’s prohibit the sale of private information and make them liable for its release

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    April 2, 2018
    • Richard Wanderman said:

      Amen. Or, let them sell subscriptions for those who want to be part of it but don’t want ads or data scraping.

      0
      April 3, 2018

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