Can Apple’s On-Device Analytics Compete with Google and Facebook?

November 3, 2015

I wonder. Can Apple maintain its lead without getting deep and dirty in analytics?

Voracious cookie monsters

Apple decided to “take the higher ground”. It has pivoted this year focusing a lot around privacy. Not maintaining user keys for one, but also collecting little or no information from devices and doing as much as possible analytics on device. For now, it seems to be working.

But can it last?

Let’s head 5 or 10 years into the future.

Now lets look at Google and Facebook. Both have voracious appetite to data. Both are analytics driven to the extreme – they will analyze everything and anything possible to improve their service. Where improving it may mean increasing its stickiness, increasing ROI and ARPU, etc.

As time goes by, computing power increases, but also the technology and understanding we have at our disposal in sifting through and sorting out huge amounts of data. We call it Big Data and it is changing all the time. A year or two ago, most discussions on big data were around Hadoop and workloads. This year it was all about real time and Spark. There’s now a shift happening towards machine learning (as opposed to pure analytics), and from there, we will probably head towards artificial intelligence.

To get better at it, there are a few things that need to be in place as well as ingrained into a company’s culture:

  1. You need to have lots and lots of data. The more the merrier
  2. The data needs to be available, and the algorithms put in place need to be tweaked and optimized daily. Think about how Google changes its search ranking algorithm all the time
  3. You need to be analytics driven. It needs to be part and parcel of your products and services – not something done as an afterthought in a data warehouse to generate a daily report to a manager

These traits are already there for Google and Facebook. I am less certain regarding Apple.

Fast forward 5 to 10 years.

  • Large companies collect even more data
  • Technologies and algorithms for analytics improve
  • Services become a lot more smart, personalized and useful

Where would that leave Apple?

If a smartphone (or whatever device we will have at that time) really becomes smart – would you pick out the shiny toy with the eye candy UI or the one that gets things done?

Can Apple stay long term with its stance towards data collection policies or will it have to end up collecting more data and analyzing it the way other companies do?

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