Business Insider Declares US Brainwashed, Blames Apple
That's the entire headline from a recent Business Insider story discussing the importance of what Apple has done. It warns, in stentorian tones that would make a Doomsday cultist proud, that "Apple has so mesmerized you that you [all of us] live in the reality distortion field." We'd like to offer our readers with severe short-term memory problems a one-word summary of the story, as provided by our good friend Morbo:
Folks actually seem pretty outraged. Congress wants answers, hearings have been scheduled, lawsuits filed, Illinois' AG has made inquiries, and the FTC/FCC (one or the other) will likely investigate the issue. Journalists certainly aren't thrilled with these new discoveries, both South Korea and Germany have launched investigations of their own.
In light of these facts, we're not sure what would constitute an appropriate level of outrage. Old-school protesters may be tempted to hurl their phones at 1 Infinite Loop, but we're reasonably sure that might constitute a breach of the peace. Plus, they might break.
Let's assume, momentarily, the Business Insider is right and that the size of America's outrage isn't even half the size of our forefather's...erm, outrage. Here's some of our favorite possible reasons why they have nothing to do with Apple:
4.) It's Complicated: People got pissed about the iPhone 4's screen and amazing ability to drop calls because they could see a simple relationship between the two. This issue is about privacy, security, and anonymity. Some pundits are ticked because the file is trivially easy to access, some because there was no notification of this feature (except their was), some because Apple really doesn't need to be storing an entire history of where your phone has been since the day you activated it.
Sadly, most people don't like explanations longer than a Twitter post. We offer the below as proof.
There's a lot of confusion rumbling around the media over what the outrage actually is. There's the existence of the log, its complete lack of security, the fact that Apple collected such information without user consent, and the company's decision to share it with the police. Frankly, it's a lot easier to get pissed about a broken phone.
3) It's Even More Complicated: Google phones have location-based services. So do WP7 devices. The researchers who first presented this issue noted that they haven't found equivalent code on these other devices—which actually makes it harder to explain the difference between 'good' and 'bad' services to a non-techie. Meanwhile, we like our nifty functionalities. We like fast GPS services that can actually pinpoint our location within 50 feet as opposed to thinking we're in China or visiting the New York sewer. We want to be able to see a list of local ATMs, restaurants that specialize in gastrointestinal cataclysms, and that one bar where we met a girl who didn't surprise us at the end of the night.
2.) We're Used To It: Anyone with a credit card, social security number, or frickin' Kroger Plus card is already trackable. Facebook and Foursquare actually encourage people to make themselves easier to find. People explicitly port cell phone numbers across carriers because they want to be reachable no matter where they are (another form of making oneself visible). We're not claiming this is good, but it's sure not Apple's fault.
1.) Apple Hasn't Said Much Yet: Outrage, like fires, children, and revolution, must be fed. Even Tony Hayward, who never met a statement he couldn't use to make people hate him, didn't manage to enrage everyone in the southeast US the first time he took the podium. Apple probably will apologize for the security issues that make the file so easy to access while tossing out a bone "We're very sorry you think a feature we designed is actually a problem." The company might even deign to put in and on/off switch for this property, or at least a clearly identified agreement that you must agree to or not be able to activate the phone.
Finally, there's the practicality of it all. Even those customers who are thoroughly disgusted with Apple over this and want to jump ship don't necessary want to do so right now—not when waiting for contract renewal dates or at least long enough to gauge the company's response are both smart moves.