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Google Tracked iPhones, Bypassing Apple Browser Privacy Settings


At first glance, this sounds really bad. I mean, really bad. The Wall Street Journal essentially sets it up as Google (and other, smaller advertising players) purposefully circumventing the web browsing privacy controls on the iPhone in order to track users’ browsing habits.

And when they got caught, Google stopped doing it. Which is usually not a good sign.

But my initial reaction is that John Battelle is right. This is much more nuanced than a simple black and white argument. Mobile Safari does have stricter privacy controls than other browsers, which is likely a very good thing for most users, but it also benefits Apple because it essentially destroys Google’s business. 

And it’s a business that you could argue is helpful to some people for a number of reasons (all the free services Google is able to provide as a result, for example).

I just don’t believe this is as big of an “evil” Google thing as WSJ may have us believe. But having said that, if this really is mainly about Google+, that’s very poor form on Google’s part. You can argue that Google web ads are useful in certain situations and that data Google gets from cookies on the web makes them better. But the whole +1 junk is forced at best. 

One thing is certain: Apple is not going to like this one bit. This seems like the kind of thing Steve Jobs would have gone ballistic over. This will undoubtedly escalate the war between the two sides.

This is really not good, guys. I know “I deleted my Facebook” is/was a thing. But you can’t exactly delete your iPhone. Or delete Google. Unfortunately. Google is doing nefarious things, and something shall give.

The iPhone Argument For Pop Music

Caveat: This argument doesn’t account for taste. Some people choose to buy Android phones.

I was walking around Bergdorf Goodman this weekend. (…) Among the forest of Louboutins, I noticed that virtually everyone who wasn’t shopping was staring at an iPhone. (That shopping for $7,500 shoes and $48,000 power suits was essentially boring to a lot of the people will go unanalyzed.) When I pulled mine out to check up on my Words With Friends, I realized that with regard to a phone, I was on the level with these rich folk. The iPhone is the very best phone money can buy, and it’s the sort of money that even I have.

Owning an iPhone isn’t an insignifcant investment: It seems like Verizon is always charging me some special extra fee or charge, which brings my bill up to around $120 a month. Plus the $200 down, that’s like $1,5400 per year (for two years). But, that’s the best money can buy.

Compare: dinner for two at New York City’s best restaurant runs two people up a $1,000 tab. Kanye West’s standard gray tshirt costs $385.78 (for a three-pack). Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have an estimated $8.79 million block of apartments in London. Now do me: I’m wearing a shirt I got for $10 on sale at Express, and my apartment is surrounded by empty lots and condos that are constantly under-renovation because they were built so poorly. (I did indulge myself and get the chef’s tasting menu at DANIEL for a spendthrift $150 lunch. J/k.)

My point is that there are some areas where the richest people in the world have it much better than everyone else. And there are areas where they are “just like us”. Everyone poops. Some just scat in a $6,400 seat. Now, when it comes to music, there’s no super-secret Svenborgian electro-dub that’s only available to the rich and famous. There’s not even anything like an artist too obscure, avant-garde, or exclusive to hide from the internet. No, when the stars go out at night, they’re probably sick of hearing LMFAO and Pitbull, too. But that’s also the great thing about pop music: it’s not only not exclusive, but — because sheer popularity isn’t a fine metric to evaluate greatness — it’s also intrinsically as good as it can be. Record companies spend a lot of money trying to make a hit. Your garden variety Lady Gaga song is the iPhone of pop music. “You Belong With Me”, “Black And Yellow”, “Pumped Up Kicks”, “Otis”, “Moves Like Jagger” — these are the best (or, ‘best’, if you will) music offerings available to the public. “Countdown” is freely available to everyone on Wall Street and on Main Street.

I suppose this above makes some people sad or angry. We can’t do any better than this? That’s understandable. I really like Gauntlet Hair, too. But the radio’s persistent churn of fresh, expansive music that costs tons of money to make and draws on the talent and inspiration of hundreds or thousands of people — that’s a constant source of pleasant wonder to me.