NYT: Apple has shaken the foundation of the free internet

From Kate Conger and Brian X. Chen's "A Change by Apple Is Tormenting Internet Companies, Especially Meta" in Friday's New York Times:

Meta’s warning and its cratering stock price were reminders that even among tech giants, Apple holds extraordinary sway because of its control of the iPhone. And the tech industry received a clear notice that a long-planned shift in how people’s information may be used online was having a dramatic impact on Madison Avenue and internet companies that have spent years building businesses around selling ads.

“People can’t really be targeted the way they were before,” said Eric Seufert, a media strategist and author of Mobile Dev Memo, a blog about mobile advertising. “That breaks the model. It’s not just an inconvenience that can be fixed with a couple of tweaks. It requires rebuilding the foundation of the business.”

Other internet companies that depend on ads felt the tremors, too. But smaller outfits appear to have been more nimble than Meta in their response to Apple’s changes...

Apple’s changes have far-reaching repercussions that may hurt consumers’ wallets, Mr. Seufert said, though consumers are overwhelmingly choosing not to be tracked. While Meta and other big media companies have developed new methods to target people with ads, some smaller brands, whose ads can no longer reach new customers, have found a different solution to the problem: raise prices.

My take: "Free internet" should probably be couched in quote marks. Your cookies and tracking data are not without value.

18 Comments

  1. Greg Lippert said:
    Utter BS. They sneak this line in and then never explain it.

    “some smaller brands, whose ads can no longer reach new customers, have found a different solution to the problem: raise prices.”

    I’ve come to loathe NYT tech stories.

    10
    February 4, 2022
    • Daniel Epstein said:
      A lot of bad speculative economic writing in the article. Another example is the idea that somehow consumers will pay a measurable cost for not allowing tracking. Maybe they will spend extra time without a product they didn’t buy yet? Do you think Apple will raise the cost of their products or others will raise the cost of their products because they couldn’t track IPhone users outside of the apps they can track? Hard to find an example that would be informative..

      5
      February 4, 2022
  2. Business must have the right to force consumers, including children, to be tracked and spied on constantly or they’ll raise prices? Isn’t that blackmail in some form? Consumer privacy, including that of minors, must take a back seat to corporate profits?
    The NYT comments section to yesterday’s article describing Facebook’s share price decline was packed with thanks & glory to Apple. Many comment writers were unaware how deceptive & invasive Sandberg & Zuckerberg’s practices were until Apple gave us a choice to opt-out. The executives at FB need only look in the mirror to find the source of their woes.

    5
    February 4, 2022
  3. All this is playing out while Elon Musk is throwing a fit because a student is using public information about air traffic to track Musk’s private jet all over the world. It’s OK for Facebook to track teenagers wherever they go but don’t you dare try to track a billionaire!

    13
    February 4, 2022
    • Rodney Avilla said:
      “It’s OK for Facebook to track teenagers”
      It’s not OK to track teenagers, unless the teenager wants to be followed. Thanks to Apple, both the teenager and the billionaire should be afforded the same privacy. At least to some degree. It’s true Cook’s house is blurred out on maps, and I doubt there are very many teenagers with blurred houses. And I would think there are plenty of teenagers being physically threatened, considering life in many ghettos. As a share holder, I definitely want TC’s life to be protected. Life always seems to get complicated.

      1
      February 4, 2022
  4. David Emery said:
    I love how Apple’s moves towards user control of privacy is characterized as “tormenting” companies. More whips and chains to Apple, I say!

    5
    February 4, 2022
  5. Fred Stein said:
    Did not, will not, read this article. Headline totally misses the point.

    The internet is still 100% freely available on iOS and Android. The Apps, which rely on the the proprietary IP in iOS and Android, are subject to fees and regulation by the owners of the IP.

    3
    February 4, 2022
  6. Jerry Doyle said:
    The media is being disingenuous in not reporting clearly the facts relative to ATT. All that Apple has done is to give consumers a deserving “choice” that empowers them in deciding how much personal information they elect to release to companies seeking to track consumers activities across the Internet for purposes of targeting them with personal ads. Some consumers seek more engagement, others less. The majority of consumers have elected not to be tracked. Apple had no involvement in the consumer choice made. It is not Apple who has shaken the foundation of the Internet. It is the consumer who finally has been “empowered” by a reputable company with integrity giving the consumer the tool to use in deciding how much personal information to release about themselves. Instead, we see the media focusing on how Apple, the big conglomerate, has destroyed companies’ business models.

    9
    February 4, 2022
  7. Timothy Smith said:
    Yesterday, I did a search for third-party leather watch bands that would fit the Apple Watch. Today, I see numerous ads for leather bands.i have “Prevent cross-site tracking” checked.

    1
    February 4, 2022
    • John Konopka said:
      Are you searching with google? Try duck duck go or another search engine that won’t track you.

      7
      February 4, 2022
      • Timothy Smith said:
        I thought Apple blocked Google, too. I guess not.

        0
        February 4, 2022
        • David Emery said:
          Apple certainly canNOT block what Google does -inside its own servers-. If you send a search request to a Google server, why would you believe that Apple could influence what Google does with that information?

          2
          February 4, 2022
  8. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Our elected representatives on both sides of the aisle are following this same ignorant way of thinking as well with their ham handed bills being proposed to allow third part App Stores on the iOS platform among other asinine aspects.

    3
    February 4, 2022
    • David Emery said:
      While they ignore the commercial surveillance industry altogether! US desperately needs an equivalent to EU’s GDPR, but of course that would help the population while hurt the companies with lobbyist dollars.

      I plan to write to my senators later today opposing the so called “Open App Markets Act” and advocating for a GDPR act, with the core argument being the legal principle of “Cui Boni?” and noting that I don’t benefit from forcing alternative app stores, but I definitely suffer from the lack of regulation of the surveillance business.

      1
      February 4, 2022
  9. Ken Cheng said:
    It’s almost as if Brian Chen has a long-standing axe to grind against Apple since his Wired days.

    4
    February 4, 2022
    • Greg Lippert said:
      Absolutely. He seems to have a major national Apple bias. Seen it since he took over.

      2
      February 4, 2022
  10. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    For all the money, brilliance and techno-craft that goes into the culling of data for the targeting placement of ads, it seems the ad arrows fired are accurate, but they don’t seem to stick in their targets.

    I find it hard to believe many people even click on ads so there’s a lot of arrows that lay on the ground as a result.

    Shooting an ad in a targeted direction and claiming victory, doesn’t make it successful unless your arrow sticks and the customer pays.

    0
    February 5, 2022

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