5. Apple: There's No Problem, but We Fixed It
Apple (AAPL) is getting really good at fixing things it says aren't a problem.
This week, the company denied, confessed to and then said it will change its iPhone tracking practices that have created an outcry about potential privacy invasion.
In classic Apple fashion, the company issued a press release Wednesday consisting of 10 questions the company asked itself. In addition to the 10 answers, the company said it is preparing a software update that changes the way it collects data about iPhone locations.
First came the denial. "Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," said the release.Next came the explanation. The short version: Apparently Apple doesn't track iPhones -- it collects the data from WiFi and cell tower antennas that track iPhones. The long version: In order to find your location faster, Apple said it uses a database of antennas in a given area. This ready cache of antenna info can quickly pinpoint you on a map -- that's a lot faster than if you had to wait only for a GPS satellite report. While Apple says this offers fast, accurate and secure location services, "users are confused" because the company has "not provided enough education about these issues to date." Ah, the classic "it's not you, it's me" defense. It's not your fault for being confused and angered about location-snooping. It's Apple's fault for not explaining how awesome the system is. Apple also blamed bugs in the system. Apple didn't want to collect and store location data for as long as a year and said it will change that to one week. Apple also blamed a bug for allowing the collection of location data to continue even if the user shut off the location service. The release ends with a vow to issue new software that cuts back on the location-tracking and also let users opt out of it. To recap, there's no problem, but they're fixing it. Gee, this sounds awfully familiar. Almost like the same approach was used to fix the very not broken iPhone 4 antenna. After denying there was a flaw, the company gave away free bumpers and remained vague about an antenna fix. "We're still working on this -- we're happy with the design," Steve Jobs said at the time. Well, if it ain't broke...
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