Breaking Point: How Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook Became Foes

SAN FRANCISCO — At a confab for tech and media moguls in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July 2019, Timothy D. Cook of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook sat down to repair their fraying relationship.

旧金山——2019年7月,在爱达荷州太阳谷一场科技和媒体巨头座谈会中,苹果公司(Apple)的蒂莫西·D·库克(Timothy D. Cook)和Facebook的马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)坐了下来,以修补两人间摩擦重重的关系。

For years, the chief executives had met annually at the conference, which was held by the investment bank Allen & Company, to catch up. But this time, Facebook was grappling with a data privacy scandal. Mr. Zuckerberg had been blasted by lawmakers, regulators and executives — including Mr. Cook — for letting the information of more than 50 million Facebook users be harvested by a voter-profiling firm, Cambridge Analytica, without their consent.

多年来,这两位首席执行官每年都会在这场由投资银行艾伦公司(Allen & Company)主办的会议上聊聊近况。但这一次,Facebook正在努力应对一场数据隐私丑闻。由于允许为选民画像的公司剑桥分析(Cambridge Analytica)在未经许可的情况下收集超过5000万Facebook用户的信息,扎克伯格当时正遭受议员、监管机构和企业高管们——其中包括库克——的严厉抨击。

At the meeting, Mr. Zuckerberg asked Mr. Cook how he would handle the fallout from the controversy, people with knowledge of the conversation said. Mr. Cook responded acidly that Facebook should delete any information that it had collected about people outside of its core apps.


Mr. Zuckerberg was stunned, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Facebook depends on data about its users to target them with online ads and to make money. By urging Facebook to stop gathering that information, Mr. Cook was in effect telling Mr. Zuckerberg that his business was untenable. He ignored Mr. Cook’s advice.


Two years later, Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Cook’s opposing positions have exploded into an all-out war. On Monday, Apple released a new privacy feature that requires iPhone owners to explicitly choose whether to let apps like Facebook track them across other apps.


One of the secrets of digital advertising is that companies like Facebook follow people’s online habits as they click on other programs, like Spotify and Amazon, on smartphones. That data helps advertisers pinpoint users’ interests and better target finely tuned ads. Now, many people are expected to say no to that tracking, delivering a blow to online advertising — and Facebook’s $70 billion business.


At the center of the fight are the two C.E.O.s. Their differences have long been evident. Mr. Cook, 60, is a polished executive who rose through Apple’s ranks by constructing efficient supply chains. Mr. Zuckerberg, 36, is a Harvard dropout who built a social-media empire with an anything-goes stance toward free speech.


Those contrasts have widened with their deeply divergent visions for the digital future. Mr. Cook wants people to pay a premium — often to Apple — for a safer, more private version of the internet. It is a strategy that keeps Apple firmly in control. But Mr. Zuckerberg champions an “open” internet where services like Facebook are effectively free. In that scenario, advertisers foot the bill.


The relationship between the chief executives has become increasingly chilly, people familiar with the men said. While Mr. Zuckerberg once took walks and dined with Steve Jobs, Apple’s late co-founder, he does not do so with Mr. Cook. Mr. Cook regularly met with Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, but he and Mr. Zuckerberg see each other infrequently at events like the Allen & Company conference, these people said.

了解内情的人士透露,两位CEO的关系日渐冷淡。扎克伯格曾经和苹果已故联合创始人史蒂夫·乔布斯(Steve Jobs)一起散步、吃饭,但跟库克就不这样了。前述人士说,库克经常和谷歌联合创始人拉里·佩奇(Larry Page)见面,但和扎克伯格则只会在艾伦公司座谈会这类场合偶尔来往。

The executives have also jabbed at each other. In 2017, a Washington political firm funded by Facebook and other Apple rivals published anonymous articles criticizing Mr. Cook and created a false campaign to draft him as a presidential candidate, presumably to upend his relationship with former President Donald J. Trump. And when Mr. Cook was asked by MSNBC in 2018 how he would deal with Facebook’s privacy issues if he was in Mr. Zuckerberg’s shoes, he replied, “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

两位高管还会时不时发起相互攻击。2017年,一家由Facebook和其他苹果竞争对手资助的华盛顿政治机构发布匿名文章批评库克,还编造了推举他为总统候选人的假消息,估计是为了破坏他和前总统唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)的关系。2018年MSNBC在采访中问库克,如果他在扎克伯格的位置上,会如何应对Facebook的隐私问题,他答道,“我就不会落入这样的处境。”

Apple and Facebook declined to make Mr. Cook and Mr. Zuckerberg available for interviews and said the men have no personal animosity toward each other.


Regarding the new privacy feature, Apple said, “We simply believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used.”


Facebook said Apple’s feature was not about privacy and was instead about profit.


“Free, ad-supported services have been essential to the growth and vitality of the internet, but Apple is trying to rewrite the rules in a way that benefits them and holds back everyone else,” a spokeswoman said.


A Chasm Opens


Mr. Cook and Mr. Zuckerberg first intersected more than a decade ago, when Mr. Cook was second in command at Apple and Facebook was a start-up.


At the time, Apple saw Facebook as a hedge against Google, the search giant that had expanded into mobile phone software with Android, a former Apple executive said. Around 2010, Eddy Cue, who leads Apple’s digital services, sought out Mr. Zuckerberg for a potential software partnership, the former executive said.

一位前苹果高管说,当时苹果把Facebook看做是对谷歌(Google)的一种对冲,当时这家搜索引擎巨头已经凭借Android进入手机软件领域。这位高管说,大概在2010年的时候,苹果数字服务主管艾迪·库伊(Eddy Cue)与扎克伯格接洽,想看看能否建立软件合作伙伴关系。

In the ensuing meetings, Mr. Zuckerberg told Mr. Cue that Apple had to deliver a great deal for a partnership, or the social network would be happy to go it alone, this person said. Some Apple executives felt those interactions showed that Mr. Zuckerberg was arrogant, this person added.


Two other people said that the talks were cordial and that they were confused by the characterization of the meetings. The discussions eventually led to a software feature that let iPhone owners share their photos directly to Facebook.


But the friction had set the tone. The situation was complicated as Facebook and Apple also became mutually dependent. The iPhone was a key device for people to use Facebook’s mobile app. And Facebook’s apps — which later also included Instagram and the messaging service WhatsApp — have been some of the most downloaded programs from Apple’s App Store.


By 2014, Facebook executives had grown fearful of the leverage that Apple had over the distribution of its apps with iPhone customers. Those concerns were compounded when Apple at times delayed updates of Facebook’s apps through its App Store, said people familiar with the matter.


Then, at its 2018 developer conference, Apple unveiled technology changes that struck at Facebook’s ad business. Those included a built-in screen-time tracker for iPhones that let users set time limits on certain apps, which affected companies like Facebook that need people to spend time in apps to show them more ads.


Apple also said that to protect people’s privacy, it would require companies to get permission from users of its Safari internet browser to track them across different websites. Facebook has used such “cookie” tracking technology to gather data, which enables it to charge advertisers more.


“It really spoke to the power of Apple controlling the operating system,” said Brian Wieser, president of business intelligence at GroupM, an advertising industry firm. “Facebook isn’t in control of its own destiny.”

“这确实证明了苹果控制操作系统的权力,”广告行业公司群邑(GroupM)的商业情报总裁布莱恩·维泽尔(Brian Wieser)表示。“Facebook的命运不在自己手里。”

At Facebook, Apple’s privacy moves were viewed as hypocritical, said three current and former Facebook employees. Apple has long had a lucrative arrangement with Google to plug Google’s data-hungry search engine into Apple products, for instance. Facebook executives also noted that Apple was entrenched in China, where the government surveils its citizens.


Privately, Mr. Zuckerberg told his lieutenants that Facebook “needed to inflict pain” upon Apple and Mr. Cook, said a person with knowledge of the discussions. The Wall Street Journal previously reported Mr. Zuckerberg’s comment.

一位对谈话知情的人士说,扎克伯格私下告诉下属,Facebook“需要给苹果和库克一些苦头”。《华尔街日报》(The Wall Street Journal)此前曾报道过扎克伯格的言论。

App Tracking


At Apple’s virtual developer conference last June, Katie Skinner, a manager on the privacy team, announced that the company planned a new iPhone feature to require apps to get users’ consent to track them across different apps. She discussed it for just 20 seconds.

在去年6月苹果的虚拟开发者大会上,隐私团队经理凯蒂·斯金纳(Katie Skinner)宣布公司计划推出一项新的iPhone功能,要求应用征得用户的同意才能在不同的应用之间进行跟踪。在这个问题上,她只用了20秒钟草草带过。

To Facebook, it was a declaration of war, three current and former employees said. If people were given the option to not be tracked, that could hurt Facebook’s ad business, the executives figured.


The announcement came on top of a fight over gaming. Last year, Apple rejected a Facebook Gaming app from its App Store at least five times, until the social network had sufficiently tweaked the program.

在宣布前,两个公司已存在一场与游戏有关的对抗。去年,苹果公司在其应用商店中至少五次拒绝Facebook Gaming的应用,直到该社交网络对程序进行了充分调整。

Mr. Zuckerberg has since shifted his tune about Apple’s move. With Wall Street nervous about the effect on Facebook’s business, he said in a March interview on the audio chat app Clubhouse that Apple’s feature could benefit the social network. If advertisers struggled to find customers across different apps, he said, they might gravitate more toward Facebook because of its already enormous troves of data.


“It’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position,” he said.


But Mr. Zuckerberg has also been blunt about Facebook’s feelings on Apple. “We increasingly see Apple as one of our biggest competitors,” he said in an earnings call this year.


Even on that point, Mr. Cook has disagreed.


“I’m not focused on Facebook,” he told The Times this month. “I think that we compete in some things. But no, if I’m asked who our biggest competitors are, they would not be listed.”


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