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Apple CEO Steve Jobs insists that his company's "magical" iPhones and iPads don't track customers -- despite glaring evidence to the contrary. He accused rival Android -- which has recently been beating Apple in market share -- of tracking customers. He offered no evidence to support his claims.
Apple CEO offers no evidence to support his claims

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs is fond of describing his sleek electronic gadgets-cum-fashion statements as "magical".  This week he tried to work a bit of "magic" on the public in the face of major tracking concerns.

Tracking concerns?  What tracking concerns?

That was basically Mr. Jobs' take in a brief email exchange with a customer.

An iPhone user emailed Mr. Jobs, writing:

Steve,

Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It's kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don't track me.

As he occasionally does, the Apple CEO and tech luminary actually appeared to respond in person to the user.  He writes:

Oh yes they do. We don't track anyone. The info circulating around is false.

Sent from my iPhone

The email was published and ostensibly verified by MacRumors, a popular Apple leaks blog.  It seems likely to be authentic, given that it follows Mr. Jobs' email style -- short, to the point, and short on details.

Mr. Jobs' claims that Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android OS tracks customers seem to have a bit of foundation.  Android maintains a very limited database of users' location.  However, the database appears to turn off if location services are disabled.  It also is regularly wiped.

By contrast Apple maintains a much larger local database that appears never to be wiped.  The easily visualized file shows in vivid detail where users have been.  It collects data hundreds of times a day.  About the only defense Apple can legitimately muster is that it does not regularly collect the file.

Apple had previously claimed that its iOS devices stop following customers if they turn off location services.  But it now appears that they do not -- the database keeps growing regardless of the setting.  That revelation has led to multiple international officials, including [PDF] United States Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), demanding the company explain itself.

Mr. Jobs has in the past emailed customers about such issues as his company's campaign against pornography and Flash (two of Mr. Jobs' least favorite things).


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How deliciously ironic
By Tony Swash on 4/26/2011 9:51:15 AM , Rating: 1
It looks like the discovery that iPhones store data about locations of masts that are near to you has set off a media storm.

On one level this is because of trivial reasons such as the fact that anything Apple does fascinates everyone (it is after all the most powerful technology company on the planet) and because the small minority of uber posting Apple phobes love this sort of stuff (any seemingly bad news about Apple or its products, no matter how trivial, helps fend off the despair).

But this story has seemingly touched a deeper nerve and led to a flurry of much debate about the much bigger issue of locational and end user data storage and surveillance in general. So Google and Apple will be called to testify and various inquiries will begin. And the deliciously irony in all this is that the company with the most to lose and the most to be embarrassed about is of course Google as it's whole business model is foundered on watching and recording what people do on the internet and where they do it. For Apple collecting end user data is a trivial part of their business (that may be changing - see below) but for Google it's absolutely their bread and butter. So the Apple location scandal, partially whipped up by Apple phobes, may well come back to bite Google. Talk about the law of unintended consequences ;)

If there is a wider clamp down or greater control of end user date data collection it may after all impact Apple's plans. My assumption has long been that when the time is right, when Apple had integrated the work of Siri following it's purchase and when it had its Death Star data centre humming along, that Apple would enact its revenge for Google's betrayal (WTF was Eric doing sitting on Apple's board all that time taking notes!). I think we may see this in iOS5 later this summer.




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