Is Cook Fulfilling Jobs Vision Of “Thermonuclear War?”

I know, the theme regarding “nuke” seems to be playing out everywhere, from military channels to cooking shows. I get it, for I’ve also used it.

The reason why (using a defensive argument, pun intended): It is a little bit hard to push back from the front-of-mind the whole idea of “nuke” when we have a rogue nation threatening just that, while detonating and testing H-Bombs. All while simultaneously launching missiles over the heads of Japan and menacing, “The U.S. is next!”

The only ones paying absolutely no heed are the “markets.” But that’s for another column.

However, this time the “thermonuclear” moniker is relevant, because it was the actual term used by the late Steve Jobs when he declared he would use all of Apple™ resources to wage it against Google™, in-particular Android®.

Here are a few quotes from his biography as to demonstrate recounted by Walter Isaacson. To wit:

“I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this…”

“Our lawsuit is saying, ‘Google you f***ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off…”

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

“…outside of Search, Google’s products—Android, Google Docs—are shit.”

So with the above for context this is the reason why I’m going to both ask, as well as state, that maybe, just maybe, Tim Cook is following up on one of Jobs last wishes. Whether intentional, or not.

The reasoning for this becomes self-evident when one looks at the newest release coming from Apple. Hint: It’s not the iPhone® that caught my attention. Rather, it’s the new OS named High Sierra® and a few newer built-in functions. Although seemingly inconsequential at first glance, they may have a very, very, very (did I say very?) big effect on the aforementioned company aka Google. Here’s why:

(Let me state first, although I am an admitted Apple-fanboy. I also have been critical (and still am) when it comes to much of what Apple has been doing over the years. This is commentary based on how I view this scenario via the business prism, and/or its potential consequences. This is not an endorsement, or hit job, of any of the offerings, of any company.)

In light of what has been transpiring over the last few months there is one thing that seems to be consistent: People are now, more than ever: cognizant, worried, and willing to take actions, even if inconvenient at first, to either protect their identity, or stop the inexhaustible, relentless tracking of their viewing or search habits, across all platforms.

That is a tectonic shift in attitude from just a few years ago. Hint: and it’s moving faster, and showing ever-the-more seismographic warnings.

The latest Equifax™ debacle, although different in terms as in: illegal. Is just another shudder in the ever-growing rifts between “I don’t care who sees my browsing history, or buys my data.” To, “I don’t want anyone, or any platform looking over my screens, and more – any more! And I’m willing to change my habits if need be, to do just that.”

That is an amazing transformation in public opinion. Although the above is not via some scientific study. (yet) This was the responses in-kind that I received from my own personal questioning of friends and colleagues.

Let me add this qualifier, for it is relevant since I infused the word “scientific” into the discussion): This is from people with money to spend, and lose. And personal data and credit worthiness that matter. Not 13-year-olds, or people still living in mom-and-dad’s basement.

I also believe they are not outliers, and this will only grow as more and more people realize just what they are giving away on these “free” platforms that make their $Billions based on them as “the product.”

Here’s what the new operating system coming out later this month from Apple does that may be a game changer for the likes of Google in ways that are truly meaningful:

One: ICloud Drive® may in-fact challenge Google Docs® in ways never before meaningful for a very simple reason: Privacy.

If “Drive” lives up to being a seamless way to transfer files across all devices and allows easy sharing, across other platforms or devices? Google is in the direct crosshairs for an advertising hit to its bottom line. Why?

Because Google not only collects all your data, it does a little bit more. Like sell it. After all, that’s what their in business for, correct?

Remember: You’re the product when the service is “free.” This (e.g. search) is the quintessential ads-for-eyeballs model. And Google Docs® and more helps solidify further data collection.

Second: The browser Safari® will automatically “stop auto-play videos.” Why is this important? Hint: Auto play is recorded as a hit an advertiser must now pay for enabling Google to collect a fee. No auto-play? No fee.

Third: Tracking prevention. A pet-peeve of mine, and a plague of the web. Here’s how Apple itself summed it up. To wit:

“Remember when you looked at that green mountain bike online? And then saw annoying green mountain bike ads everywhere you browsed? Safari now uses machine learning to identify advertisers and others who track your online behavior, and removes the cross‑site tracking data they leave behind. So your browsing stays your business.”

Am I the only one who thought “That’s gonna peel off some Chrome® users alone, I’m sure.” But they took it one step further, and it is here where you can see the “cross-hairs” come into full view in this fourth point, once again, to wit:

Fourth: Private browsing, as in possibly: truly private.

Here’s Apple’s description once again:

“When you use Private Browsing, Safari doesn’t remember the pages you visit, your search history, or your AutoFill information. You can also use DuckDuckGo, a built-in search engine that doesn’t track you, to make your web searches private, too.”

Fairly innocuous at first glance, but that’s where the true intention shows itself from my perspective.

First: If your “search” truly is private? That’s going to effect Google’s data collection model because people will (I know I will) use Safari when ever possible if the claims pan out. I’ve already shifted to Bing® some months back just to get out from under the whole “Google” thing. And I’m in the process of closing everything else affiliated with me such as Gmail® and more.

But Apple followed up with this, and it was here that I found it quite interesting. As it states above: “You can also use DuckDuckGo, a built-in search engine that doesn’t track you, to make your web searches private, too.”

Really? A search engine built into Safari that easily, and quickly enables me to enter a search query free of the “Don’t Be Evil” empire? Hmmmm…

So who (or what) is DuckDuckGo?

Personally, I’ve only heard of them from people like Seth Godin and others that use them. But for myself, never. And that can be said for most people I know. That is, until as of late.

I was asked the other day if I seen that new “search thingy” Apple is putting in Safari? So, as usual, I started digging to find out what they were talking about and I what I found was interesting in a few ways. And they are these:

  • They now can appear as an “add-on extension” if you enable it right next to your search bar in Safari. The ease to click on, and use is basically frictionless.
  • Although far from as “deep” as Google appears to be, it does seem to give (at least for myself anyways) enough results for that “quick hit” when needed. Google of late (again, my opinion) has been near pitiful in comparison to what it was just a few years ago. If it isn’t a “recommended” its “we’ve cut your inquiries from 500,000 pages to just the 3 we think are most relevant.” Then when you try bypassing it (because page 146,429 might be the page I’m willing to scroll through to get what I need.) All you get is the same thing over, and over, and over again till you jettison the query altogether in frustration.
  • And don’t get me started on how you can be “alerted” should you want to know if your name or a specific issue makes the news or web. It has devolved into something beyond useless and more into pathetic territory.

But here is where things get truly interesting which I found when looking into their traffic history. To wit:

(screenshot source)

What the above chart shows is relevant for this reason: As one can see there are the letters A,B,C, et cetera. Those represent news stories relevant to the traffic patters. (much like Google does) The letter of note is “B.” Why? Because that is when Google announced its first real policy change basically stating they were combining and consuming all your data. And there was no way for you to “opt out” unless you opted out of Google entirely.

It’s here that traffic begins the much touted “hockey stick” effect and has gone nearly straight up ever since. The other letters on the above graph are significant for two reasons. One: They relate to privacy concerns. And Second: D, E represents when they were first added to other browsers such as earlier Safari releases, then Mozilla™.

That’s a near 300% increase in search queries per day in just 2 years, but a near 6-fold increase since the Google revelation just 5 years ago when basically, all this privacy thinking was looked upon as “So what?” territory.

Now? It’s all front-of-mind, and people are ready to make changes. Using myself as the example – I already have. And I can tell you this: I’ve cut my own usage of Google services such as: Search. Gmail, and such by at the least 75%. All proactively, as in, I made myself do it even though at first it was a bit irritating breaking my prior habits.

Trust me, if I’m doing it, you can rest assured others are too. And that’s a very big problem for Google. Why?

If there’s just a 5% shift in negative ad revenue for Google – it would probably take the equivalent of far, far greater miss in iPhone sales to hurt Apple in the same manner. Apple can have diminishing numbers when it comes to its hardware, including he iPhone. Especially if it can show (better yet, prove) that its ecosystem is growing ever stronger.

Google can not afford the same. Because just the slightest downdraft in ads-for-eyeballs income will signal Wall Street it’s time to start taking their profits elsewhere.

If I’m correct, the next thing to go “ballistic” just might be the aforementioned line on the graph above.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr