Apple's 5-year plan: Privacy-as-a-service

From Neil Shah's "Apple's PaaS," posted last week by Counterpoint Research:

Apple is bold & brilliant.

Since the launch of the first iPhone & iOS 12 years ago, Apple has transformed into a company sitting on a gold mine of more than a billion premium users. It has a strong understanding of how to respect and protect those users, while extracting the gold in a timely manner...

We are now in the 15th year of the iOS platform update and for the past five years, Apple has astutely started building its focus and narrative around “privacy”.

The privacy narrative has been deliberate and cleverly executed, providing many benefits – the biggest of which is building “trust”. This is usually the toughest part as companies need to “walk the talk”; Apple has been relentless with its engineering to bake in the privacy layer across its entire ecosystem.

    • Position “privacy as a fundamental right” for the users
    • Commence the “privacy plumbing” work across the products for better flow of “trust”
    • Unveil piece by piece privacy features with every update
    • Go on offense and double-down on a privacy-centricity updates this week at its annual WWDC21 conference
    • With trust gained, begin to monetize with Privacy-as-a-Service and more

My take: Shah gets it. In this context, the scary, trackers-go-poof ad Apple aired just before WWDC feels like the planting of a flag.


  1. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    Thank you, Mr. Neil Shah.
    Positive feedback about Apple, feels rare these days, so I appreciate it.

    PaaS also = Privacy as a Strategy.

    June 13, 2021
  2. Fred Stein said:
    Nice find, thanks.

    I still think the word is safety, more than privacy.

    ‘Open’ sound cool. As Cat Stevens said, “But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there. Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world.”

    June 13, 2021
    • Robert Stack said:
      @Fred: Ahhh…Cat Stevens! One of my faves in HS and college! Now that you’ve brought that song back in my memory (Wild World) it’s likely to stick all day. 🙂

      June 13, 2021
  3. David Emery said:
    There is an implicit tension between increased privacy and increased openness. That will -explicitly play out- in laws and regulations that seek more openness and have the side effect of defeating, or at least eroding, the mechanisms for privacy.

    June 13, 2021
    • David, The attention to security matters grows when a major pipeline is hacked. Privacy is only possible with adequate security measures in-use & end user training. Google & Facebook depend on mining every inch of every consumer’s private life & selling our most private data to a long line of buyers waiting for the latest scuttlebutt, on everyone. Over time, once people or their pipelines get hacked often enough, they seek refuge & ease of use. I see a trend towards more secure browsing, payment & trusted messaging. Apple’s safe harbor is there waiting…

      June 13, 2021
  4. Joe Murphy said:
    @ “ There is an implicit tension between increased privacy and increased openness. That will -explicitly play out- in laws and regulations that seek more …”

    Governments tend to extend their control, whether it’s increasing their territory or just control of their subjects. Recognizing this, Jefferson was against a Bill of Rights because the rights listed would be the only ones the government didn’t eventually take.

    June 13, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      The Apple logo turning into a padlock at the end of the video is cute, I’m sure we’ll see that again!.

      On my previous point: Privacy is clearly a current differentiator for Apple. My concern is how far legislatures and administrators will go to reducing that Apple advantage. That’s much more likely to be done as a side effect of ill-conceived legislation/regulation, than for any explicit “Let’s go break Apple” intent. The previously proposed “Apple must establish an encryption back door for use by government investigators” is a classic example of “ill-conceived’

      June 13, 2021
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        A back door can only be justified in the context of governmental access to the users personal data. Somehow, no matter how Levi toon is written, I don’t see the Supreme Court being OK with it.

        June 13, 2021
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      Imagine that…

      …viewing your customers as humans instead of data contraband.

      Think different — 

      June 14, 2021
  5. Apple’s Privacy, security, and safety are features I started pitching to legal clients in the 1990’s. By day I taught Windows networking & software, Office, Visual Basic. Unlike DOS/Windows, I knew Apple gear was nearly impossible to hack. Yet it was rare to see Apples in offices other than design, publishing and photo. Later police & intel agencies caught on.
    In-House IT at major firms wanted no part of Mac. Lawyer’s kids begged for them so I taught Photoshop and Pagemaker from 5:30p to 10p weeknights. Lawyers needed training so I taught them about security, reliability & ease of use. Tyson’s Corner Apple store was the 1st for several reasons.

    When rich DC lawyers get home they use Macs.

    June 13, 2021

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