Tim Cook Threatened To Pull Uber App After Uber Gets Caught Breaking Apple’s Rules

I’ve said for a very long time that Uber is not a company that should be respected and that people should pay to use. After all, this is a business that breaks the rules and asks for forgiveness later, which is not how a business should be run. Case in point is this report from the New York Times that details that the Uber app for iOS was secretly fingerprinting iPhones that used it so that they could identify individual users. The problem with that is that doing so violates Apple’s privacy policy. Uber went as far as to “geofence” the Apple Campus to hide this behavior:

Mr. Kalanick told his engineers to “geofence” Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., a way to digitally identify people reviewing Uber’s software in a specific location. Uber would then obfuscate its code from people within that geofenced area, essentially drawing a digital lasso around those it wanted to keep in the dark. Apple employees at its headquarters were unable to see Uber’s fingerprinting.

The thing is, that didn’t work. And when Apple CEO Tim Cook found out about this, he summoned Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to 1 Infinite Loop to demand that Uber remove this behavior from their app, or the app would be pulled from the app store:

But Apple was onto the deception, and when Mr. Kalanick arrived at the midafternoon meeting sporting his favorite pair of bright red sneakers and hot-pink socks, Mr. Cook was prepared. “So, I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules,” Mr. Cook said in his calm, Southern tone. Stop the trickery, Mr. Cook then demanded, or Uber’s app would be kicked out of Apple’s App Store.

For Mr. Kalanick, the moment was fraught with tension. If Uber’s app was yanked from the App Store, it would lose access to millions of iPhone customers — essentially destroying the ride-hailing company’s business. So Mr. Kalanick acceded.

This is precisely why Uber as a company should cease to exist. It’s a dubious company with clearly dubious business practices. Uber is very lucky that Tim Cook is CEO of Apple, because if Steve Jobs were still running the show, there would be a crater where Uber’s headquarters is located. Ok, that’s perhaps over the top. But the app would have been pulled from the app store without a meeting and a warning to Kalanick first. And I guarantee that the Uber app wold never have been seen on an iOS device again.

I have a message to Uber, I’d seriously consider altering your behavior because sooner or later someone is going to really drop the hammer on your heads.

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