Apple simply requires the FT and all developers to get users’ informed consent

  • Posted: 06 April 2011 01:10 PM

    There has been a lot of errant talk on this post about Apple interfering with a developer’s direct relationship with its customers.  That is utter nonsense.  Apple does not prohibit the FT or any developer getting personal info from a customer, nor does Apple prohibit any customer from choosing to give any developer certain personal info.  Quite to the contrary of what’s been stated,  Apple requires a direct and immediate connection between developer and customers by requiring that the developer, here the FT, tell the user what info it wants, how it will use that information, and then obtain that customer’s duly informed consent to acquire and to obtain and use that customer’s info, as they developer has represented.  So the developer has access to personal information, but it must obtain the customer’s informed consent to get and use that information.  And the customer is free to provide his personal information.

    What some developer, particularly publishers, don’t like is that Apple won’t simply give them its customers’ personal info without each of those customer’s individual permission.  Apple won’t and can’t do that, because, unlike Google and/or Facebook, Apple has not contracted with its customers in a way that permits it to transfer their personal data to third parties.  Under Apple agreements with its iOS customers, the customer’s data is still the customer’s right, not Apple’s, so the developers has to go directly to the customer to obtain the customer’s information. 

    So, unless Apple is willing to change its privacy policy, developers who insist that Apple provide customers’ info are out of luck, because Apple can’t do that; only the iOS customer can do that.

    Also, the FT is unreasonably asking Apple to assume legal jeopardy.  Apple is already the defendant in a class action privacy suit for allegedly doing what the FT is asking it to do.  Is the FT ready to indemnify Apple?

         
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    Posted: 06 April 2011 05:19 PM #1

    Point well taken Nemo. However, FT is still free to evaluate the arrangement that Apple has created and say that they don’t want to be part of it. And FT’s parent company, Pearson, is free in its negotiations on other things, such as textbooks, to use this disagreement to gain other concessions from Apple, should Pearson want to play it that way. And Pearson is also free to not do business with Apple and instead support competing tablet platforms, should such platforms be more amenable to its business model. Since I’m not seeing Android or PlayBook (via Android app compatibility) restricting what gets on their platforms like Apple does, I imagine Android tablets, if good enough and priced competitively, will greatly benefit from Apple’s rabid control. Are schools going to have to buy two tablets in order to get Pearson textbooks? Or might they stick with one, even if it’s not quite so *magical* (it is, but whatever) as the iPad.

    I have a suggestion for Apple. They could take a page from Android Marketplace. Before you buy an app on AM, you are presented with a list of permissions that an app needs. Many apps over-ask for permissions, and they get criticized heavily in the reviews. Perhaps Apple could take that as a model and create information sharing permissions that are presented to the user before they buy an app or subscription:

    “As a condition of purchasing this app, the developer/publisher requires that you (the user) share your name, email address, and mailing address with them.”

    That would probably ensure that the FT remains in the App Store. What problem, if any, would you have with that Nemo? If you feel it is a problem that you wouldn’t buy it because it demands those things, you certainly won’t be able to buy it if it isn’t in the App Store. So where else does this suggestion break down?

         
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    Posted: 06 April 2011 06:20 PM #2

    Nemo - 06 April 2011 04:10 PM

    ...Apple requires a direct and immediate connection between developer and customers by requiring that the developer, here the FT, tell the user what info it wants, how it will use that information, and then obtain that customer’s duly informed consent to acquire and to obtain and use that customer’s info, as they developer has represented.

    The main difference between how Apple & Google require publishers to ask for consent is one of clarity. Apple wants it put in plain language. Google is ok with publishers (and other app developers) burying it in the fine-print. Note the “show all” button in the lower left corner.

    Here’s an example of an iPad permission request from the FaceBook app.

    I know you can use iPad apps without giving consent to certain requests. It’s not clear to me whether that is possible with an Android app. It appears that you must approve all permission requests in order to install the app in the first place. Maybe an Android user can clarify if there is a way to deny certain permissions (e.g. reject 3, accept 4).

         
  • Posted: 06 April 2011 06:21 PM #3

    Nemo - 06 April 2011 04:10 PM

    There has been a lot of errant talk on this post about Apple interfering with a developer’s direct relationship with its customers.  That is utter nonsense.  Apple does not prohibit the FT or any developer getting personal info from a customer, nor does Apple prohibit any customer from choosing to give any developer certain personal info.  Quite to the contrary of what’s been stated,  Apple requires a direct and immediate connection between developer and customers by requiring that the developer, here the FT, tell the user what info it wants, how it will use that information, and then obtain that customer’s duly informed consent to acquire and to obtain and use that customer’s info, as they developer has represented.  So the developer has access to personal information, but it must obtain the customer’s informed consent to get and use that information.  And the customer is free to provide his personal information.

    What some developer, particularly publishers, don’t like is that Apple won’t simply give them its customers’ personal info without each of those customer’s individual permission.  Apple won’t and can’t do that, because, unlike Google and/or Facebook, Apple has not contracted with its customers in a way that permits it to transfer their personal data to third parties.  Under Apple agreements with its iOS customers, the customer’s data is still the customer’s right, not Apple’s, so the developers has to go directly to the customer to obtain the customer’s information. 

    So, unless Apple is willing to change its privacy policy, developers who insist that Apple provide customers’ info are out of luck, because Apple can’t do that; only the iOS customer can do that.

    Also, the FT is unreasonably asking Apple to assume legal jeopardy.  Apple is already the defendant in a class action privacy suit for allegedly doing what the FT is asking it to do.  Is the FT ready to indemnify Apple?


    Great summation. There is no rational argument against this explanation or Apple’s position.

         
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    Posted: 06 April 2011 06:51 PM #4

    Drew Bear - 06 April 2011 09:20 PM
    Nemo - 06 April 2011 04:10 PM

    The main difference between how Apple & Google require publishers to ask for consent is one of clarity. Apple wants it put in plain language. Google is ok with publishers (and other app developers) burying it in the fine-print. Note the “show all” button in the lower left corner.

    ...

    I know you can use iPad apps without giving consent to certain requests. It’s not clear to me whether that is possible with an Android app. It appears that you must approve all permission requests in order to install the app in the first place. Maybe an Android user can clarify if there is a way to deny certain permissions (e.g. reject 3, accept 4).

    These differences that you identify are in style, not substance. How Google does this needs to also be taken in context with where Google does this. This information, and reviews that are often based on it when an app demands more permission than it needs, are presented prior to purchase. They are also presented prior to install.

    The user cannot allow certain permission and deny others. The granted permissions are enforced by the API. Apps may generally assume if they are installed that they have the requested permissions granted and will not get permissions errors when calling into the API to do certain things. Apps cannot use portions of the API for which they don’t have permission.

    But the app permissions are not the issue here. Customer information at time of purchase is. On Android Marketplace, FT gets that from each user that acquires the app, even if it’s free. On Apple App Store, the user much volunteer the information, and presumably could even purchase a subscription without FT ever getting the user data. Given that Android phones now outnumber iPhones, Google’s way will more and more become the default expectation for developers and users. Apple may try to use its approach as a competitive advantage, but developers who depend on customer information will be less likely to play there, giving Android and other more developer-friendly platforms a counter-advantage.


    edited by intruder to fix quotes

    [ Edited: 06 April 2011 07:15 PM by Intruder ]      
  • Posted: 06 April 2011 07:13 PM #5

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 06 April 2011 08:19 PM

    ...Apple’s rabid control.

    Come on now.  Rabid?

    No body is forcing anybody to do anything.  Apple has been very consistent and I don’t believe they will change their minds on this issue.

    But rabid?  Surely you can think up a more appropriate adjective than rabid.


    edited by intruder to fix quotes

    [ Edited: 06 April 2011 07:16 PM by Intruder ]

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    Posted: 06 April 2011 07:24 PM #6

    @westech… if you put the phrase in context, it means “[comparatively] rabid control”, which I think any reasonable observer would agree to be quite accurate. On Android, there is no pre-sale approval process for apps, and Google has pulled few apps from its store after the fact—all for clear violations of marketplace rules and in no instance in a way that Google has been criticized as heavy handed or self-serving. Even Kongregate is back in the Android Marketplace.

    So I stand by rabid as a description of Apple’s level of control.

         
  • Posted: 06 April 2011 07:33 PM #7

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 06 April 2011 10:24 PM

    @westech… if you put the phrase in context, it means “[comparatively] rabid control”, which I think any reasonable observer would agree to be quite accurate. On Android, there is no pre-sale approval process for apps, and Google has pulled few apps from its store after the fact—all for clear violations of marketplace rules and in no instance in a way that Google has been criticized as heavy handed or self-serving. Even Kongregate is back in the Android Marketplace.

    So I stand by rabid as a description of Apple’s level of control.

    Ya the sort of rabid control Google are now heading towards…

    Watch out Google, there are people watching what you are doing with your data now…

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/06/pandora_smartphone_privacy/

    [ Edited: 06 April 2011 07:36 PM by John Molloy ]

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    Posted: 06 April 2011 07:39 PM #8

    I like the Rabids Lenny…

         
  • Posted: 06 April 2011 07:57 PM #9

    Given that Android phones now outnumber iPhones, Google?s way will more and more become the default expectation for developers and users. Apple may try to use its approach as a competitive advantage, but developers who depend on customer information will be less likely to play there, giving Android and other more developer-friendly platforms a counter-advantage.

    I don’t think the market is giving Apple any reason to change, and whether we disagree or agree with how they do business is irrelevant.  The iOS app store had 2010 revenues of $1.78B vs $102M on Android.  So if we accept at face value that Android phones now outnumber iPhones, why does Apple have a 17X advantage in app revenues?

    The customer is voting, and they are voting 17-1 in favor of Apple.  Most developers cannot ignore that reality, even if they think Apple is the devil.  And with the tablet rout we are currently seeing, can this really be expected to change any time soon? 

    For whatever reason, the consumer is more inclined to reward iOS developers than Android developers.  Until this reality changes, developers can scream all they want, but if they need to make payroll or profit, then customer behaviour trumps everything else.  Apple knows this, and therefore have little reason to change their business model.  As an investor, I say that they have this formula figured out way better than Android and their partners.

    I have sympathy for the FT guys.  The industry is built upon publishers having a relationship with their customer.  If I was in their shoes, I would be fighting Apple on this too.  I don’t know how they can maintain advertising revenue if they cannot provide profiles of who their demographic and customers are.  But it sure seems like they need to get used to this new reality, because iOS delivers paying customers, whether they like Apple methods or not.

         
  • Posted: 06 April 2011 11:08 PM #10

    Lstream - 06 April 2011 10:57 PM

    I have sympathy for the FT guys.  The industry is built upon publishers having a relationship with their customer.  If I was in their shoes, I would be fighting Apple on this too.  I don’t know how they can maintain advertising revenue if they cannot provide profiles of who their demographic and customers are.

    Certainly for the FT, I’d think they have pretty good statistics from the print side of what their demographics are. Yes, one could argue that the demographics of an on-line user may be slightly different, but not substantially.

    I don’t think FT print or on-line has a substantial demographic that says 18-year old ethnic minority. My guess is > 80% FT’s demographic is ethnic majority (probably white), age 30-65 with income above the median.

    What else do you need to know?

    You get ads from Lexus, BMW, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, etc.

    I think the real problem here is a bunch of “executives” at the FT need to justify their existence and need data to make Powerpoint presentations to say “we need to get ads from Lexus BMW, etc. just like we did for the last 10 years”.

    Do they really think they are going to discover they need to target Justin Beiber’s record label for advertising dollars?

    I appreciate why SJ has little patience for their whining.