Apple is Looking More and More Like the Company to Go With

Apple store at Park Meadows Mall, Lone Tree, CO

The theme of this week’s Particle Debris is that technology advances are happening so fast that they are outstripping the ability of even reasonably informed people to make informed choices.

I’ll get to that, in some detail, further along.

We trust our kids are in good hands with Apple.

But first, one of the key elements of Apple’s proactive system design has been the way iOS updates are handled on our iPhones and iPads. This is important because we’ve reached an interesting security inflection point. Instead of continuing updates making our devices more and more secure, instead, continuing updates merely hold the fort until the next round of updates.

Whether by awesome prescience or good policy, Apple anticipated the above scenario by seizing control of the iPhone update process. Jonny Evans at Computerworld nicely explains the process that started in 2007.

Apple planned for this when it began to use subscription accounting in April 2007.

Author Evans reminds us that system updates weren’t always free.

It’s important to note that operating system upgrades were not always free.

You had to pay for both Mac and Windows upgrades. Windows Mobile (at that time a threat) demanded a fee for its upgrades, but customers weren’t buying. Palm, RIM, and Nokia only seldom introduced OS upgrades, preferring a ‘built-in-obsolescence’ model in which customers were driven to purchase new handsets to get hold of a new OS.

Of course, customers neglected to do that.

Today, 95 percent of iOS devices are running iOS 10 or later. Evans explains, “This means 95 percent of all actively used iOS devices run an operating system that’s under 2 years old. No other platform has this.”

This turns out to be critical when it comes to securing the iOS platform against ongoing threats.

Diametric Views, Apple and Facebook

Moving from platform security to user privacy, Cult of Mac lays out the great contrast between Apple and Facebook.

Facebook lost more value today than any other company in history: US$120 billion. The massive selloff came after CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the growing privacy concerns of the public, and the likely response of lawmakers and regulators, will hit the company where it hurts: in the pocketbook.

Author Hardy lays out the stark contrast between the two companies and explores the continuing stress Facebook is under as users and the federal government acquire a new appreciation for how Facebook operates.

Facebook’s whole business model is gathering private data about users and selling it to advertisers. The people who use its social network aren’t the customers, they’re the product being sold.

But the company’s CEO just admitted that this is becoming increasingly difficult. Speaking to investors late yesterday, Zuckerberg warned ‘Looking ahead, we will continue to invest heavily in security and privacy because we have a responsibility to keep people safe. But as I’ve said on past calls, we’re investing so much in security that it will significantly impact our profitability.’

It’s bizarre how a statement that rings so hollow could spook investors. But we live in weird times.

Finally, one can reasonably conceive of the failure of Facebook if its growth stalls any more deeply and government scrutiny becomes more and more invasive and disruptive. Meanwhile, Apple continues to adhere to good principles of security and privacy. In a day and age when time to reflect on and manage our internet life is at a premium, it makes more and more sense to stick with a company whose values echo our own.

Next Page: The News Debris for the week of July 23rd. Advances that will leave your head spinning.

4 thoughts on “Apple is Looking More and More Like the Company to Go With

  • I use Apple Pay whenever possible and a lot of the stores where I shop accept it, I wish that Costco was one of them. I have noticed that it works at many card readers that have NFC, but do not specifically advertise Apple Pay. I also have several retailer’s cards in the app.

  • For awhile, after Apple Pay was introduced, it seemed that buying things would be easier

    FWIW, I started to set up a credit card in my phone about six months ago. I got it in and just needed to authorize the card. I never got around to it. There was no compelling reason to proceed. This weekend I deleted the card. As long as ApplePay is just one among many, and most vendors have no idea what im talking about, theres no reason to use ANY pay with my phone system. As long as so many stores want to use their own systems with their own apps, there is no reason to adopt any of them. I’ll wait until it shakes out. I have one credit card. I don’t want to enter it in half a dozen apps just for the convienience of waving my phone at the device, and hoping it will take the payment. Heck, half of the places I shop don’t accept tapping yet.

  • John:

    Your lede here, technological advancement being so rapid that no one individual can keep up with it, is a good one. Permit me to take a step back and a wider angle view. I see this as a principal component, indeed the catalyst, in a paradigm shift in security and its balance point between safety, peace and prosperity on the one hand, and compromise, loss and warfare on the other. The crown jewel of that equation remains, and it ever was, a society’s economy; the source of its material well-being, and therefore the target of any hostile act.

    Improvements in the development, exploitation, and distribution of those resources has always redounded to the benefit of a people and their prosperity relative to their neighbours, as has its extension through trade and commerce with those neighbours. Any hostile seeking to augment their own power, or limiting the influence of a rival people, has always targeted those resources, be they access to natural ones, trade routes, educational facilities, factories, or human labour in order to weaken and overtake that people and/or add them to the hostile party’s dominion.

    In the past, such actors had to rely on the crude instruments of man and horse, cutting blade and cudgel (eg William the Conqueror vs Harold at Hastings), which were later refined to greater efficiency by gun powder and arial bombardment (eg Germany vs Europe); which had the nasty side effect of wasting many of those same human and material resources on which one’s own ambitions depended should one succeed in conquest (eg Russia vs Germany). One could not take over another people without destroying what made them attractive, at least to some extent, in the first place. This was simply the currency of peace and the cost of war and empire.

    Enter the 2000s, and that all changed. The creation of the internet and later the world wide web created a novel resource; searchable and even collated information, and the levers of infrastructure. However, it was anarchic (no one controlled it) and haphazard, being limited both in amount (what was posted on the internet) and footprint (the number of participants). With the advent of the smartphone, access and therefore utilisation of that resource went global, as did participation by clients and users. Importantly, any and everything of importance was added to it; aided and catalysed by search engines (eg Google) and social media (eg Facebook), and was fed and sustained by private enterprise (advertisers). Better still, it remained uncontrolled, unregulated and owned by no one. This was tantamount to discovery of a vast and effectively limitless mine of Unobtanium…in no man’s land. Welcome to the brave new world of the ‘Online-i-verse’, where the resources to the world’s economy increasingly live.

    This marked an inflection point in the definition of security; altering the rules of peace and prosperity as well as rivalry, conflict, and warfare and its spoils – empire and dominance. With a stroke, the online world became integral to economic growth, emergence of new industry and employment and the generation of new wealth – a honey pot for one’s rivals and adversaries. Conversely, it was the greatest vulnerability and existential threat to any participant and dependent society, as the poorly defended weakest link in a nation’s security.

    And the best part for an ambitious hostile party? The cost of war and conquest just went down by orders of magnitude. The US intelligence communities estimate that the cost to Putin for waging an asymmetrical information attack on the US 2016 election was less than the cost of a single MiG 29. More importantly, the collateral damage using conventional warfare to human, natural and infrastructural resources on both the enemy and on oneself were effectively eliminated.

    Thus, Khrushchev’s misquoted and misattributed goal of burying one’s enemy without firing a single shot was operationalised and is now the state of play. And what rational state actor would have it any other way? None that seek to safeguard their own resources, access those of their rivals, and inflict maximum hurt on their rival’s stability and governance. Peace, war and detente are redefined for a new security paradigm.

    There are three implications, with prognostic significance, to both tech companies and society from this paradigm shift.

    The first is that warfare waged in the Online-i-verse is largely state-sponsored, even when it’s conducted by private sector actors in quest of profit. Such industrial-level assets necessitate regular monitoring and adaptation that only industry can provide – the private sector having the greatest motivation (their bottom line) and potential responsiveness. Apple, having taken a proactive approach with its iOS are optimally positioned in this regard.

    Second, platform fragmentation, in which regular system security updates are thwarted across a critical mass of the client base, is now more than a matter of simple client inconvenience and fanboy bragging rights, but a matter of national and global security. Companies that can limit such fragmentation have a fitness advantage in the Online-i-verse, whilst others may face gathering headwinds, including from governments. Here again, advantage Apple.

    Third, businesses whose models depend on trading in a targeted and valued asset, like personal user data, face an inherent contradiction to their own survival, as well as hard and precious few desirable choices for ensuring their profit margins with that model going forward. Amazon, and to a lesser extent, Google have greater insulation against this, whereas Facebook and their ilk have maximum exposure, and unless they can ford the conflicting currents of simultaneously trading in and safeguarding users and their data against attack (whether theft or attitude and behavioural influence), may be staring into the gaping maw of extinction. This outcome is uncertain and unenviable. Apple are not in that business.

    In sum, Apple’s adoption of the whole widget model, whether done by foresight or raw instinct, may prove the most prescient choice and the fittest model for continued adaptation to a fast-evolving security climate.

  • Apple is not on any home assistant or AI, AR cutting edge but they make a great phone. But, they update way too often making their expensive stuff obsolete way too soon. Then there is the quality considering what you pay for, take flaptops for example: I think I’s go elsewhere if I was forced to use a flaptop. (from the web)
    1A1226/A1260 2007-2008 Macbook GPU failures, warranty service refusal
    A1226/A1260 2007-2008 Macbook Pro hinge/frame problem
    A1286 Macbook Pro – the “Unibody” myth, glued together pieces fall apart
    A1286/A1297 MCP power circuit failure due to poor buck converter design: C7771 issue
    iPhone 4 cellular placement fail 7:12 – iPhone 5 power button problem
    A1286 2010 Macbook Pro GPU kernel panics due to same buck converter defect from 2008/2009(apple engineers doesn’t give a crap about engineering, same design flaw for three straight years)
    A1286 2011 Macbook Pro GPU failure, Apple gets sued over not addressing problem.
    Apple gives out badly refurbished boards as warranty replacements for 2011 GPU failures. 2012 Retina Macbook Pro: another motherboard issue (U8900), due to poor soldering/manufacturing method on the GPU buck converter.
    Mac Pro GPU failure (again). 16:27 – iPhone 6/6+ touchscreen issue due to structural issue.
    SSD soldered straight into the motherboard + chip that would kill the macbook, because a power line would short out to ground when the chip dies.
    2016 Macbook keyboard reliability issue.
    2016 Macbook Battery failure issue.
    A1278 Macbook Pro SATA cable failures – how is that possible??

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