Complaints regarding the ways privacy is handled in the Apple App Store have been pouring in – leading to headlines.
The Cupertino based technology behemoth is, however, trying hard to boost its brand image as a company focused on enhanced consumer-privacy. This is in stark contrast to its arch-rival Google which makes misogynists millionaires. However, it has been alleged by some that Apple is doing this in a somewhat high-handed manner.
A Strange Situation
The most striking impact can be on some companies. Imagine a situation when an app needed by a company goes missing from the App Store all of a sudden? This disappearance is made even worse by no indication or information on its return.
While abandoning an existing app and developing a new one is certainly possible, it is not exactly a cost-effective solution for most such companies. It can also be time-consuming. The typical hushed up nature of Apple makes things pretty tedious for companies in this regard.
The privacy-centric approach leading to taking apps down without informing the companies anything about those apps can be disturbing. This may not be so problematic for apps that are entertainment based but the same is not true for business apps.
Doing so can be absolutely counterproductive for companies into financial services and food delivery segment – for example. From significant revenue loss to backlash from customers who have become really app reliant – outcomes are severe.
While keeping focus on security and privacy from a business perspective is justified, Apple can deploy it in a different and more realistic manner.
For example, Apple could override this problem by sending a notification instead of taking down apps they suspect have privacy issues. The users trying to download the apps will get notified and then they can decide about the apps. This approach will still make the users feel Apple is a privacy-focused brand but they will have a choice.
The Trend Micro Fiasco and Aftermath
Recently, the fiasco concerning Trend Micro, a noted security firm made the news. In September, Apple felt the app had data retention features leading to a violation of privacy. Without asking the company to get those issues resolved, the app was removed suddenly. This of course made the customers of Trend Micro absolutely baffled.
Trend Micro recently stated that the company was asked to make some changes by Apple in some of its apps.
However, the company complied and even after that, Apple asked them to make more changes. This led to some frictions between the two entities and eventually customers had to bear the brunt. In fact, the customers are still not sure what is going to happen to the apps.
Trend Micro actually took things a step ahead on this. They posted a blog explaining how information shared by Apple was misleading. The company vehemently denied reports of Trend Micro stealing data of customers and sending the data to Chinese servers.
Trend Micro performed an investigation of privacy issues related to its macOS consumer products. This, as per the company claim, was a single time data collection, made for security purposes.
The issue was mentioned in its EULA offered before installation. The browser history data it said was sent to a US server. However, these explanations did not go down well with Apple and now the cold war is simmering. Trend Micro apps are still not seen in the App store.
Effect on the End Users
Simprocity, a security firm, led by Daniel Portenlanger said six clients of the firm have been affected by the Apple policies. The irony is for the sake of Mac security and privacy, Apple removed the Trend Micro apps offering privacy and security.
The result is the customers using those software apps have no control on their Apple mobile devices.
These were paid apps which makes the whole thing even more frustrating and unacceptable. This has not happened to the android devices though. So, this makes the android apps more desirable from the user’s perspective.
The impacted users are not sitting idle either. Siegfried Lebherz is among them and he serves as Perfect Temperature Control president. The company is stuck in an awkward position owing to this Apple move, as per his views. The security issues cannot be overlooked, as it is. Proper communication is the need of the hour.
Fab-Rite Sheet Metal is another company that has been hit badly by the Apple move. Its president Patrick Ryan said the issue is serious.
The apps can’t perform Automatic scans now. The company actually lost an assignment owing to security deficits. The issue has led to the deactivation of email in phones. Again, the issue is lack of communication.
On the other hand, until Apple completes the issues with app makers, it can’t say with certainty when the vendors will be able to make new apps to replace existing ones.
This is another reason the company should offer the users the choice to continue using such apps flagged for privacy violations. Or else, a huge number of users get affected and business losses occur.
The Lesson to Learn
Apple, as always, has maintained a stoic silence on the whole episode. It has not reverted to the media queries in a characteristic manner. The company has always shown a controlling attitude –whether it is about upcoming products or existing ones.
The users have stuck around because of the unified experience it offers across its platforms and ecosystems. However, the hushed attitude may cost its customers who may flock to rival Googl.