On Monday, as part of its World Wide Developers Conference, Apple
As part of the conference's opening salvo, Apple previewed new features to give iPhone owners more options for managing their data. For example, as part of iOS 15, users will be able to block marketers' ability to see whether or not they've opened an email through the Mail app. In addition, advertisers hoping to get a glimpse into users' surfing habits will no longer have the luxury of using their IP addresses.
Craig Federighi, Apple senior VP of software engineering, decried at the conference how info brokers and ad tech companies currently use third-party apps to mine data from users without their permission. "We don't think this is right. We believe in protecting your privacy and giving you transparency and control over your information."
The consequences of these changes could prove disastrous for the ad-tech industry, further blinding marketers as to the habits of iPhone users.
"Hiding information such as IP addresses, location and whether users have opened or read emails could severely limit the way many companies track and monetize users," wrote Ben Wood, an analyst at CSG Insight, in an email on Monday.
Facebook has said that Apple's moves to limit tracking threaten the well-being of small businesses that rely on targeted ads to bring in sales. In reality, Facebook's entire business model revolves around subsidizing its services through mining data and targeted advertisement. On privacy and other matters, Apple has been able to impose its will on developers like Facebook due to its monopoly on app distribution through the App Store. But, that all could soon be changing depending on how events play out in a federal courtroom in Oakland, California.
Since last August, Epic Games has been undertaking a strategic campaign to undermine Apple's total control over the App Store. Ultimately arguing in Federal court that Apple has unfairly prohibited third-party alternatives to the App Store on the iPhone, forcing developers to pay hefty commissions while limiting consumer choice.
Apple has argued that the 30% commission it charges is fair considering the burden Apple places on itself to properly vet any apps that get listed on the App Store. Richard Doren, a lawyer for Apple, warned the court of "mayhem" that could ensue if Apple's careful review process is no longer required.
However, for Apple, there's more than just money on the courtroom table. Should Apple lose in court, the availability of third-party App Store alternatives could very well neuter any present and future efforts by Apple to protect its user's privacy. If, for example, Facebook were able to develop its own App Store, iPhone users could then sideload Facebook onto their phones. Meanwhile, Facebook would no longer have to comply with Apple's guidelines on tracking or transparency.
For Email marketers and data brokers hoping to bypass Apple's restrictions, a lot rests on the upcoming ruling by federal Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers.
According to Judge Gonzales, it will take several weeks to come to a ruling.
- 1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/apples-annual-developer-conference-caps-a-tense-year-11623058201?mod=tech_lead_pos3