A battle has been simmering between the companies for years.
While it’s no secret that tensions are growing between Apple and Facebook, a report by The Wall Street Journal has shed more light on just how acrimonious the rift has become. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once reportedly told employees that “we need to inflict pain” on Apple in response to “extremely glib” comments made by his counterpart, Tim Cook.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, Cook was asked what he’d have done if he were running Facebook at the time. He said that he wouldn’t have found himself in such a situation in the first place, and criticized Facebook for invading user privacy. He took another indirect shot at Facebook recently while slamming “rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms.”
Although the two CEOs met in 2017 in an attempt to repair their fractured relationship, the encounter “resulted in a tense standoff,” according to the WSJ. Since then, the rift between the companies has deepened, and an upcoming iOS privacy change is set to widen the chasm.
Last year, Apple announced that iOS apps would eventually need to ask users for permission to track them across other websites and apps using IDFA (ID For Advertisers) tags. As with the App Store privacy “nutrition labels” it rolled out in December, Apple has given developers some time to prepare for the change, which will be enabled when iOS 14.5 arrives early this year.
Facebook took issue with the policy update. It claimed that the move will hurt its revenue, as a large chunk of its business model depends on tracking user activity for ad targeting. Facebook has reportedly considered filing a lawsuit against Apple over alleged anticompetitive policies and it has offered to provide Epic Games with documents to aid that company’s legal battle with Apple. The WSJ also reports that Facebook has been conducting “a campaign against Apple” with antitrust regulators and government figures.
This battle is playing out in public and private while Apple and Facebook are both under antitrust scrutiny. They also appear to be on a collision course to become more direct competitors. Their respective CEOs believe mixed reality and augmented reality represent the future of computing. Facebook, of course, has Oculus in its stable, while Apple is testing the waters of AR and details have been emerging about its mixed reality headsets.