Google Eric Schmidt hits back at Apple’s Tim Cook

Google’s love-hate affair with Apple took a new twist this week, Chairman Eric Schmidt sparked a war of words with Apple’s Tim Cook, over what many view as a never ending supremacy battle.

Apple’s Tim Cook seem to have started the war with Google. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Cook said Apple was much more concerned with user’s privacy unlike a certain competitors, a statement that did not sit well with Google.

Cook took jabs at Google for what he termed as monetizing customers’ information. He said when internet services (like Google) were offered for free, you’re no longer the customer but the product.

“Unlike our competitors, (Google) we don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you.” Said Tim Cook. “At Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy,”

Google had previously admitted to scanning messages sent through Gmail to target ads to customers based on the keyword findings.

Schmidt was quick to fire back at cook. In a recent interview with CNN, Schmidt said, Google worked tireless to protect its users’ data from the government, hackers, companies and advertisers. He also pointed that Google’s Android already had a strong encryption from its 2.3 Gingerhead release. It was up to users to customize their setting to share less information.

“Someone didn’t brief him correctly on Google’s policies, that’s unfortunate for him,” Schmidt said of Cook. “In Google’s place, we have always been the leader in security and in encryption. Our systems are far more secure and encrypted than anyone else, including Apple. They’re catching up, which is great.”

When asked about his thoughts by about recent comments by Julian Assange, who claimed Google was using a similar business model with US National Security Agency, Schmidt was quick to trash the allegations. He said Unlike Google, NSA was a government funded Agency that did not have any Business Model. He said NSA and Google have never talked. “Julian needs to do a little bit more research from the safety of the embassy,” said Schmidt.  Assange and Schmidt have been at crossroads after Assange’s latest book release, “When Google Met Wikileaks”. The book was released days after “How Google works.”

Apple and Google have been engaging in intense competition in the lucrative smartphone market, with Apple portraying iPhone as the safer option. The competition majors on privacy and security fronts.  Online privacy is now a top priority among many users, especially in the aftermath of Snowden revelation of massive spying by the NSA. Consumers are now more concerned with the privacy of their information on smartphones. Both Apple and Google have beefed up security by embracing data encryption to keep off snoopy intelligent agencies.

Google launched end-to- end encryption for its Gmail service in June. The End-to-end encryption, means that data leaving your browser will be encrypted until it is decrypted by the recipient browser.  This makes it difficult but not impossible for government agencies to bleach users’ privacy.  The next generation android codenamed L to be released later this year will be encrypted by default. “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on,” said Google spokesman Niki Christoffs

Apple encrypted its lasted operating System iOS 8, running on iPhones and iPads. Under the new privacy policy users’ data is placed under the customer’s passcode making it difficult to access.

Both Apple and Google have had their share of misfortunes in the privacy frontier. Last month Apple was all over the news over leaked celebrity’s nude photos. Few weeks ago PayPal called out on Apple on a Full page in the New York to tighten its network security. “We the people want our money safer than our selfies.”. Apple has also received wide criticism over its delays to fix major bugs in its system. Apple have since adopted a two-factor authentication for iCloud that would make it harder for anyone to hack accounts on iCloud.

Google on its side lack major privacy scandals, but that does not mean its privacy policy is perfect. In 2012, Google tried to create a single privacy policy across all its services, a move that was vehemently opposed by customers. Many believed such a move would have made it easier for Google to sell user data to advertisers.

Google was at loggerhead with FTC after it by-passed FTC’s no cookie policy on Apple’s Safari Web Browsers, allowing Google to target ads to customers. Google paid a record $22.5 million fine for violating FTC’s policy. Google supposedly used its Street view cars to purposefully snoop on people’s internet sessions in 2010.

Market analyst anticipate the intense competition in the Smartphone market will shape privacy policies in both Apple and Google for the benefit of the Users. It will also encourage other companies to review their security measures.

Lawrence Mwangi Lawrence is a technology and business reporter. He has freelanced for a number of tech sites and magazines. He is a web-enthusiast, with a special interest in Online security, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. When not writing about tech he can be found in a Tennis court or on a chess board.
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