This week, I’ve collected, on one page, a set of articles that tell an important story of our time. We no longer live in a simple world of evolving, cool hardware and ever faster communications. Yes, Apple makes great hardware, but we willingly overlay that equipment with tools and services that challenge our privacy and security from every angle. Are you ready? Here we go….
The News Debris
• Facebook is under a lot of scrutiny these days, especially in the U.S., so the company has apparently decided to launch it’s new smart speaker in international markets. “Facebook smart speakers may come to international markets first, will include ‘M’ smart assistant.”
Facebook delayed the announcement of the speakers because of recent public scrutiny over how personal information is collected and used by Facebook and its partners.
The primary use of the device is voice messaging. This seems a little crazy. One can, in principle, make a case for Amazon’s Echo/Alexa because it’s in the business of selling goods. But the question of how Facebook will handle WhatsApp data has come up. So a voice assistant from Facebook is something that gives one pause.
The article continues….
Having a smart speaker potentially listening to what customers say at home could have drawn new attention to the user data issue.
• Meanwhile, the U.S. “Pentagon bans sale of Huawei, ZTE phones on US military bases.”
‘Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to Department’s personnel, information and mission,’ said Pentagon spokesman Major Dave Eastburn. ‘In light of this information, it was not prudent for the Department’s exchanges to continue selling them to DoD personnel.’
Meanwhile, Apple’s has reported that the iPhone X has sold very, very well in China. “China now as big a market for Apple as Europe after strong growth & iPhone X success.” This is an interesting geopolitical counterbalance and one to keep an eye on.
• Have you noticed how much of the news these days is not about cool hardware (except for the iPhone X), but rather about the social consequences of the software and services deployed by wealthy tech giants? And so it warmed by geek heart when I ran across this very nice technical article about how Apple is using is T2 coprocessor to enhance, not degrade, our personal security.
This is good stuff, and I’m looking forward to more of this kind of thinking in Apple’s future Macs.
• How have Apple’s products been so successful? That’s an interesting market analysis question. There are many complex elements that go into the customer embrace of Apple products. Here are two articles that give us insight into how Apple designs its approach to us.
- The Apple Watch has a secret weapon that helps it dominate the market
- Why was iPhone X so successful at $999 despite a mountain of false reporting?
After you read these two articles, you’ll have a more sophisticated understanding about how Apple approaches the marketplace with its products.
• If you request all the personal data that Facebook and Google hold about you, you’ll typically received hundreds of megabytes. With Apple? Not so much. “Apple Responds to Personal Data Request with 9 MB File.”
The size of these respective data files is proof that Apple means what it says when the company claims that it doesn’t really need to know all that much about us.
• The Big Tech Giants, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are under continuous scrutiny, perhaps anger. Apple takes some flak now and then but its notable stance on privacy and security keeps the company in good standing. How about Microsoft? The Seattle Times takes a deeper look at how Microsoft, which used to be our whipping boy in the tech community, has turned things around under CEO Satya Nadella. [The article’s weak shot at Apple is done for editorial expediency and consistency, but the rest of the article is a good analysis of Microsoft’s turnaround.] “How Microsoft got its mojo back — even as Big Tech faces hostility.”
So there you have it. This week’s news debris tells a compelling story about how our lives have been permanently altered by these companies. How we let them do what they do and how we elect to embrace their products is a crucial part of daily life. It kinda crept up on us, didn’t it?
This week’s Particle Debris is only one page.
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.