NYTimes tech reporter calls BS on Apple data privacy

From John Herrman’s Apple Used to Know Exactly What People Wanted — Then It Made a Watch:

Four years and millions of sales later, the Apple-Watch-as-iPhone-antidote pitch remains, as do its use cases as fitness and health devices. More important is what hasn’t yet happened. Whether by accident or by design, the watch has so far been immune to the runaway success that redefined the iPhone…

As Apple continues its institutional struggle to conceive of what the Apple Watch is, or could be, in the imaginations of its customers, it’s worth remembering that Apple’s stated commitment to privacy is, in practice, narrow. The competitors that Cook likes to prod about their data-exploitative business models have a necessary and complicit partner in his company, having found many of their customers though Apple’s devices and software.

This is especially relevant as Apple casts about for ideas elsewhere. Apple has already met with the insurance giant Aetna about ways in which the company might use Apple Watches to encourage healthier — and cheaper — behavior in its tens of millions of customers. John Hancock, one of the largest life insurers in America, said after Apple’s latest announcement that it would offer all its customers the option of an interactive policy, in which customers would get discounts for healthy habits, as evidenced by data from wearable devices. Here we see the vague outlines of how the Apple Watch could become vital, or at least ubiquitous, as the handmaiden to another data-hungry industry.

My take: Cheap shot. No, two cheap shots. First, “immune to the runaway success” of the iPhone is a description that could fit every new device—not just Apple’s—introduced since 2007.  Second, if I decide to trade the biometric data from my watch for a cheaper insurance rate, creepy as that sounds, I’ll do it with my eyes open. That’s not quite the same as what Google and Facebook do with my data behind my back.


  1. Gianfranco Pedron said:
    “Apple Used to Know Exactly What People Wanted — Then It Made a Watch”

    Apple has become the success it is by giving people what they never knew they wanted.

    Just another hit piece by someone who just couldn’t be bothered trying to understand Apple.

    October 7, 2018
  2. John Blackburn said:
    The NYT has been on meds for a while, the kind where someone’s all smiles, calm demeanor, then suddenly whirling around to attack seemingly randomly.

    But only seemingly, as the target and ferocity of the attack draws readers, the paucity of which is what the meds were for in the first place.

    October 7, 2018
    • David Emery said:
      “Cheap shots” are why I’ve lost respect for NYT. Not sure if they went back on their meds I’d trust them any more.

      And it seems both Aetna and Hancock are -opt in- situations. What’s wrong with that (except that it doesn’t confirm with the NYT headline?)

      October 7, 2018
  3. Peter Kropf said:
    The NYT screws things up now and then…

    Made history for advocating the invasion of Iraq. This is just idiocy, too small.

    October 7, 2018
  4. Fred Stein said:
    Pure click bait.

    I’m ashamed for the NTY. “All the news that’s fit to print”. No news. No insight. No facts. By force fitting his pre-conceived ideas, John reveals ignorance and nothing more. Apple Watch is a run-away success.

    I used to respect and trust the NYT.

    October 7, 2018
  5. Jonny Tilney said:
    I am starting to think that all business models built around advertising will need to be outlawed… NYT knows better. But wants more eyeballs.

    October 7, 2018
  6. John Konopka said:
    Has any product in the history of civilization ever performed as well as the iPhone?

    It took about a decade till the iPhone ( and its copycat knockoffs) were in the hands of virtually everyone on the planet. The iPhone changed the world. I will never see anything like it in my lifetime.

    It is absurd to knock a product for not living up to this measure of success.

    October 8, 2018

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