Apple's PaaS : Privacy-as-a-Service

Apple is bold & brilliant.

Since the launch of the first iPhone & iOS 12 years ago, Apple has transformed into a company sitting on a gold mine of more than a billion premium users. It has a strong understanding of how to respect and protect those users, while extracting the gold in a timely manner.

Apple’s robust, vertically integrated engineering approach to developing tightly integrated and attractive offerings within a closed, walled garden ecosystem has been unrivalled. It is highly cohesive and built on strong privacy fundamentals, with most users happy to be locked in.

We are now in the 15th year of the iOS platform update and for the past five years, Apple has astutely started building its focus and narrative around “privacy”.

“Privacy Foundation” To Support Long Term Trust

The privacy narrative has been deliberate and cleverly executed, providing many benefits – the biggest of which is building “trust”. This is usually the toughest part as companies need to “walk the talk”; Apple has been relentless with its engineering to bake in the privacy layer across its entire ecosystem.

  • Position “privacy as a fundamental right” for the users
  • Commence the “privacy plumbing” work across the products for better flow of “trust”
  • Unveil piece by piece privacy features with every update
  • Go on offense and double-down on a privacy-centricity updates this week at its annual WWDC21 conference
  • With trust gained, begin to monetize with Privacy-as-a-Service and more

We have already talked about how this allows Apple to build an “Advertising Walled Garden” for good and with a $60Billion opportunity.

WWDC’21: From Strategy to Execution

Running up to WWDC’21, Apple showcased why it is the best marketing company on the planet. Its flawlessly executed “Privacy, that’s iPhone” commercials primed the ecosystem for what’s coming, further cementing the trust.

  • Apple has been putting emphasis on location-centric offerings with AirTags, something it can monetize handsomely in the future. The baked-in privacy controls strengthen this initiative as location reveals sensitive context data to users’ activity.
  • Apple has been able to boldly continue to build and revolutionize the two most “privacy-centric” offerings in iOS15 – Apple Wallet and Apple Health
  • Apple Wallet now can hold your “Identity Cards” and “Keys”, credit cards, lifestyle memberships, ticketing data, etc. Gaining user trust here has been a huge accomplishment.
  • Apple Health now allows secure sharing of health records with loved ones, physicians and healthcare providers.
  • This extends not only to secure, intelligent monitoring and alerts, but also enables users to be more “proactive than reactive” by sharing with their healthcare team.
  • This is something that has been a huge bottleneck for healthcare providers and having secure end-to-end data flow from sensors on patients’ body to the cloud is a massive improvement.
  • This is a huge opportunity for Apple to gain a foothold in Warren Buffet’s favourite and presumably highly lucrative “insurance” business, with the potential of extending Apple Care+ beyond its devices to its users with privacy as the cornerstone.
  • Apple has cracked the “digital healthcare transformation” code.

  • Next up, Apple has added privacy controls across all its properties, from its App Store, Mail apps, Safari, Memory to Photos and more across all the Apple platforms.
  • Apple has taken this opportunity to monetize privacy with the launch of “iCloud+” which gives the user an extra layer of privacy with features such as “Private Relay”, a first-party VPN offering for secure, encrypted browsing, “Hide my email” to “HomeKit secure video support
  • Apple will be offering iCloud‌+ to ‌existing iCloud‌ users at no additional cost. The existing service is for $0.99 per month for 50GB of storage with one ‌HomeKit Secure Video‌Camera and $9.99 per month for 2TB of storage with unlimited secure video cameras.
  • This also hints at or makes a strong case for Apple building its own Google Nest-type cameras and service.
  • There could be a lot of upside to iCloud+ revenues in the future as Apple adds more features and maximizes “Privacy-as-a-Service“. This is just the start

  • In addition, Apple has added multiple privacy features such as “App Privacy Report“, location related privacy, secure paste and more.
  • Apple is also taking Siri native, with many search requests not leaving the phone and processed on device. This is a step in the right direction, though it would be better to apply this to other requests and areas, with recordings not stored in the cloud if possible as we would assume Apple’s ML models have already become quite intelligent with years’ worth of Siri requests likely in the billions.

Apple has been doing a great service for its ecosystem of users and developers with this “privacy-first” design and in the process, unlocked new business models and monetization opportunities. This is the genius blitzscaling of a services business with a strong, well thought-out and engineered foundation.

Neil is a sought-after frequently-quoted Industry Analyst with a wide spectrum of rich multifunctional experience. He is a knowledgeable, adept, and accomplished strategist. In the last 18 years he has offered expert strategic advice that has been highly regarded across different industries especially in telecom. Prior to Counterpoint, Neil worked at Strategy Analytics as a Senior Analyst (Telecom). Neil also had an opportunity to work with Philips Electronics in multiple roles. He is also an IEEE Certified Wireless Professional with a Master of Science (Telecommunications & Business) from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.

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