FAANG Wars Officially Commence

It was back in January when I described the battle lines that are being drawn between Microsoft and Apple on one side and Facebook, Google and Amazon on the other. In the past week, Apple has taken two major actions precisely along the lines I described: to prevent Google and Facebook from collecting data on Apple device users.

The first action was acknowledged by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself, stating that the next iteration of Apple’s iOS will obviate a substantial portion of Facebook’s data collection scheme.

The second action is Apple’s deployment of a search engine to replace Google on iPhones, possibly on iPads and Macs as well. Apple famously collects billions of dollars from Google in exchange for making Google the default search engine on Apple devices, but Apple’s displeasure with Google’s using that privilege to objectify Apple’s customers in order to reap billions upon billions more from Apple’s customers clearly outweighs this significant, but increasingly negligible, contribution to Apple’s bottom line.

For the record, I am bullish on AAPL and MSFT, both which I own, but it is critical to vote with one’s dollars in this era of unfettered, unlimited, unregulated and unrelenting surveillance perpetrated by unscrupulous companies operated by naïve or ruthless (or both) executives. Apple’s and Microsoft’s executive teams have shown a concern privacy. To be sure, this concern grows largely out of the threat that Google and Facebook present to Apple’s and Microsoft’s bottom lines, but these companies deserve credit for electing to take the high road instead of throwing in the towel and joining the data trawling industry. Apple and Microsoft deserve a lot of credit for choosing to be traditional companies that sell the customer a product. Google and Facebook are companies that sell the customers as a product!

Apple’s first stab at Google’s revenue stream came from the deployment of Apple Maps, and Siri in general gathers results from a number of search engines–especially Wolfram Alpha and Bing–to the exclusion of Google. Apple went after Facebook initially by eliminating all Facebook sharing buttons from system menus. The deployment of security measures that explicitly limit the data gathering capabilities of Google and Facebook opens a major battle in the privacy wars.

Anyone who whines that Apple’s actions constitute an abuse of platform to limit competition is clearly missing the point. Apple is staking a claim that the Google and Facebook models are not legitimate forms of business, and Apple is correct! (Tim Cook famously said that such a business “should not exist”.) It is not right to take the cynical economic route. It is much deeper than a matter of profits. Privacy and the misinformation campaigns that have come to dominate Facebook represent the greatest ethical challenge to the conduct of business in history. Facebook and Google do not comply with any moral or ethical standards of business. This lack of morals and ethics is the heart of the matter. Whom the customer patronizes, really matters. No on should patronize Facebook or Twitter. Google is a highly suspect actor, at best.

If you want to know how to kill your Facebook account, here is a guide.

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