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Last Updated : Jul 31, 2019 02:03 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Talk time | Apple is hardselling privacy for iPhones. What’s the big deal?

Not often you see Apple going that extra mile to tom-tom its track record on data security. So, is there more to it than meets the eye?

Apple has never been so vocal about privacy.

Its India campaign on Sunday is an extension of its global outreach to put the ‘spotlight on privacy’ of its flagship iPhone.

It’s the first time that an Apple advertisement is talking exclusively about protection of users’ data. Clearly, the message stood out.

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The campaign comes within weeks of the surfacing of a Face Time bug that threatened to compromise users’ privacy. Apple wasted no time and fixed the bug.

In fact, the problem lies elsewhere – there has been a decline in global sales for iPhone. And that has set off alarm bells. Analysts predict that iPhone sales could even drop to the 2016 level, its worst performance ever.

India, which had been a saving grace for the Cupertino-based technology giant between 2015 and 2017, is now showing signs of cracking. It’s now staring at a sales figure 10-15 percent lower than 2018 when Apple sold 1.7 million iPhones – that’s nearly half of 3.2 million unit sales in 2017.

The shift is becoming abundantly clear. Indian consumers are moving from iPhones to other premium alternatives because of the pricing. Apple has tried out special discount offers, but that was not enough to arrest the sales drop.

The privacy pitch alone can’t bail out Apple as history holds proof. The first company that built its edifice around robust security features is BlackBerry. But then, it has ceased to exist after the deluge of touchscreen smartphones.

Apple’s current narrative could well be about privacy, but niggling issues remain. Downloading apps from its App Store is one. No matter which app you download, including the one that comes with a tag ‘Apps we love’, chances are your privacy runs the risk of getting violated.

Tracking users’ data is nothing new as most governments do it on the ground of security. Even companies resort to this practice. It’s how one collects the data that assumes criticality. Often times, we are being tracked without even our knowledge through apps, websites, or even mobile phones.

Not that Apple does not take privacy seriously. According to its App Store practices disclosure, it rejects some 40 percent of the apps submitted, and the second most common reason for such rejection is “privacy concerns”. It also states in no uncertain terms that “we take full responsibility for ensuring that apps are held to a high standard for privacy, security and content because nothing is more important than maintaining trust of our users”.

Looks like, privacy is catching on big these days, thanks to Google and Facebook that are shouting from the rooftop the steps they have taken to protect consumers’ information. Apple has just jumped on to the bandwagon.

The rising decibel comes at a time when the Indian government is pushing ahead with its efforts to get the Data Protection Bill, 2018, passed in Parliament. Once it sees the light of day, the Bill will decide how organisations will be allowed to collect, process and store data of Indian citizens.

The legislation is predicated on the government’s belief that right to privacy is a “fundamental right” and it should be users who should be given the option to make informed choices. According to a Wired article, almost all users do not read the privacy disclosure of any service or app before clicking “I agree” and that is probably because it’s very complex with long statements full of jargons.

Apple knows this well. It may have hit the red-hot button, but will that do any good to its flagging sales?

You have to wait.

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First Published on Jul 31, 2019 02:03 pm
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