According to a report out of the New York Times yesterday, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg ordered the company’s high-level managers to switch to Android phones earlier this year. It’s not clear if the order was ever enforced, or to what degree, but it apparently came on the heels of an MSNBC interview in which Tim Cook openly criticized Facebook’s data collection and privacy policies in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and associated congressional hearings.
Cook’s remarks apparently so upset Zuckerberg that he issued the Android phone directive – though, as The Verge points out, it seems unlikely that it worked (at least very well):
[W]e checked Twitter activity from several Facebook executives, including blockchain lead David Marcus and VP of AR and VR Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, all of whom are still shown to be using iPhones.
While it would be all too easy to take this as another instance of tech gossip exaggeration – something that tends to happen a lot in Silicon Valley – a statement released by Facebook today very bizarrely all but confirmed the Times’ story. While it doesn’t go so far as to directly address the Times’ assertion about Android phones as true or false, the lack of a denial in this case is more than enough on its own. The statement even goes so far as to trash Cook for his comments earlier this year.
Tim Cook has consistently criticized our business model and Mark has been equally clear he disagrees. So there’s been no need to employ anyone else to do this for us. And we’ve long encouraged our employees and executives to use Android because it is the most popular operating system in the world.
Tensions between Facebook and Apple, then, almost certainly have to be at an all-time high. And really, it only makes sense; in many ways, the companies’ approaches to privacy, services, and products couldn’t be more different. Facebook is the poster child for big data hubris, while Apple has stood out for its dogged resistance to information harvesting and highly targeted advertising in an age where such things are fast becoming universal.
As to whether Mark Zuckerberg can get his executives all-in on Android, I have a feeling he’s going to have a harder time than he thinks. After all, even when they’re getting paid out the nose specifically to use Android, iPhone people tend to prefer their iPhones.