Apple Bites Back at Google Over Privacy as a “Luxury Good” Criticism

Recently, Google CEO Sundar Pichai indirectly commented that Apple is turning privacy into a luxury good.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Pichai wrote that “privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services.”

While Pichai didn’t explicitly state Apple’s name, the comment came right after Apple advertised the privacy benefits their $999 phone would offer.

In response, Apple software chief Craig Federighi has said that he doesn’t buy into the criticism that Apple is turning privacy into a luxury good, dismissing the idea in an interview with The Independent.

As Federighi notes, Apple wants to sell products to “everyone we possibly could” and that Apple products are “certainly not just a luxury.”

The discord comes from the differing business models between Apple and Google.

Apple generally sells high-priced hardware directly to their customers, so it doesn’t need to collect as much data on them as other companies, such as Google.

Google, meanwhile, offers a broad spectrum of services to users, generally making money off of displayed ads on those services, which are targeted based on user data.

Pichai’s argues that it is important to offer privacy-protective services which everyone can access.

Federighi has said that it is good to see other companies discussing privacy, but that it will take more than press releases over a few months to change those companies’ business practices, which rely heavily on data collection. Again, he didn’t name Google specifically, but his intent is pretty clear.

Industry experts note that the privacy battle between Apple and Google is unlikely to slow down any time soon.

Because Apple doesn’t rely on selling ads, privacy is a key area that the company can use to make its products stand out — which, in turn, incentivizes Apple to keep butting heads with Google.

Eric Silver is a veteran technology blogger and startup enthusiast that's been covering the global technology scene since the most advanced phones were still folding in half.

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