Steve Jobs and Apple responded today to the controversy surrounding the charge that the company has been tracking users movements, and I honestly can’t make heads or tails out of what they said. Coherent corporate messaging is so 2010, apparently.
Responding to the uproar that ensued after word spread that Apple has been storing location data on its users going back months, company CEO Steve Jobs granted an interview to AllThingsD’s Ina Fried in which he explained that all of this is much ado about nothing, that it’s all so Apple can keep bringing us the magic devices we’ve all become so addicted to, and that we all need to just stop crying like silly little babies.
“We haven’t been tracking anyone,” Jobs said in a telephone interview with Mobilized on Wednesday. “The files they found on these phones, as we explained, it turned out were basically files we have built through anonymous, crowdsourced information that we collect from the tens of millions of iPhones out there.”
“As new technology comes into the society there is a period of adjustment and education,” Jobs said. “We haven’t–as an industry–done a very good job educating people, I think, as to some of the more subtle things going on here. As such, (people) jumped to a lot of wrong conclusions in the last week.”
He said Apple looks forward to testifying before Congress and other regulatory bodies and said the company will do what it can to clarify things further.
“I think Apple will be testifying,” Jobs said. “They have asked us to come and we will honor their request, of course.”
Apple also released what Gizmodo’s Sam Biddle described accurately as “an amazingly self-contradictory press release” — a document in which they essentially state, as Gawker’s Ryan Tate put it, “we did nothing wrong, but shouldn’t have done it and will immediately stop doing it.”
The release itself is full of more hedges than a Versailles topiary garden—insisting that “The iPhone is not logging your location,” but that instead “it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” While the latter part may be true, their “explanation” of the logging is an arrant falsehood, since the effect of the timestamped database kept by your phone is that it is de facto logging your location. We’re not tracking your location, we’re just tracking your location! Right. So while this is an admission of some wrongdoing–“We don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data”—Apple still refuses to call a spade a spade. Your phone is logging your location, and has been since this summer. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and so have you. Their defense is akin to saying “I haven’t been staring in your window at you while you’re asleep, I’ve been looking inside and admiring all of your decor!”
My personal translation to all of this Applespeak: F*ck you, pay me!