Apple boss Tim Cook took another swipe at his beleaguered peer, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, this week as Apple unveiled a $100bn share buyback plan and boosted its dividend by 16%.
Cook was quick to pour scorn on Zuckerberg as the Facebook founder has come under fire over the Cambridge Analytica scandal of late.
“If our customer was our product, we could make a ton of money,” he said last month. “We’ve elected not to do that.”
‘Privacy is a Human Right’
And the Apple head had another dig when he said that “privacy is a human right” on a conference call with analysts this week – a clear move to contrast himself with Zuckerberg.
The Facebook boss is still reeling from the news that millions of users’ data were leaked and used to help Donald Trump win the US presidency.
While the news has not rocked Facebook’s earnings — yet — it has threatened to drag other big Silicon Valley tech companies who handle large volumes of personal data into the scandal.
Apple Revenue up by 16%
But it has not dented Apple’s fortunes, with the iPhone maker’s revenues for the three months to March growing by 16% year-on-year to $61.1bn, in line with Wall Street consensus forecasts.
It sold 52.5m iPhones in that quarter, up 3% from a year ago. Demand for the iPhone X remained robust in key markets, China and the US, with the device’s higher price powering a 14% increase in iPhone revenues overall. Net income was up 25% to $13.8bn, with earnings per share at $2.75.
Companies Under Pressure Over GDPR
Companies across the globe are under pressure to change their data protection policies under new soon-to-be-enforced EU-wide rules.
Apple’s release of iOS 11.3 last month included a feature to alert consumers every time the company asks to use personal information. “Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right, so every Apple product is designed to minimise the collection and use of your data,” Apple said.
The move was part of Apple’s effort to comply with the incoming EU rules, GDPR, but also to subtly criticise its Silicon Valley peers such as Google, who are under pressure for how they handle user data and for their privacy policies.
“I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary,” Cook said recently in response to a question about Facebook’s problems.
“The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life – from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.”
Zuckerberg defended his leadership following the digs from Cook. He said it was “extremely glib” to suggest that because people don’t pay for Facebook, the company doesn’t care about them.