February 29, 2024

Apple Calls Android a “Giant Tracking Device” in Antitrust Battle

Newly released internal slides from the antitrust trial against Google by the US Department of Justice show Apple slamming Google’s smartphone OS Android as a “giant tracking device”. The new revelations came with the DoJ releasing a series of documents related to the trial.

However, it’s worth noting that despite the privacy concerns expressed by Apple, the company went ahead with its search engine deal with Google.

During a testimony in September, Apple’s SVP of Services, Eddy Cue, informed the court that his company had entered an $18 to $20 billion deal to make Google Search the default search engine on Apple devices.

Apple’s Potential Double Standards

As revealed by the deck of internal slides from the trial, Apple hasn’t made any attempt to hide its privacy concerns regarding Google. Apple clearly believes itself to be far superior to Google when it comes to protecting the users’ personal information.

In addition to calling Android a “giant tracking device”, Apple also explained how it adopts a better approach to privacy.

Despite having other options like Bing Search, Eddy Cue testified that Apple had chosen Google Search due to the lack of other valid alternatives.

Several slides claim that Apple does a much better job handling data from user accounts, maps, ads, and searches. Apple also went on to share examples justifying its claims, such as how it keeps people’s usage of Siri and Maps separate from advertising — both targeted ads and non-targeted ones. Google, on the contrary, mixes up all the data from its users, services, and advertising, Apple claimed.

The irony, however, is that Apple’s apparent distaste towards Google over how the latter handles privacy didn’t stop the former from adopting Google Search on its devices.

As a part of the antitrust trial, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella previously testified that he had been actively trying to persuade Apple to make Bing the primary search engine on iOS devices. Microsoft reportedly offered Apple a hefty sum of $15 billion for the deal but to no avail.

It’s also worth noting that Apple might not be as fond of enforcing privacy safeguards as it seems to be. While the tech giant calls out Google on privacy and claims to do a far better job, the Apple Platform Security document shows that a lot of information security is baked into the company’s hardware and software.

Google Denied Apple’s Request for Search Data Sharing

One of the documents made public by the DoJ comprises an email chain from 2016 where Google discussed Apple’s request to make data sharing reciprocal.

We met with Apple yesterday, and they had a new request on the data set request section.Daniel Alegre, Google’s former President of Global and Strategic Partnerships

He added that Apple wanted to know which links from Google Search results were being clicked on and how long it took for Google to satisfy a user’s query.

Google reportedly declined to share the said information with Apple, describing it as the company’s “secret sauce”. However, since most of the information exchange in the email chain had been redacted, it didn’t shed much light on what goes on between the two companies.

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