Re: How to win friends...
Granted a $250K per day fine is nothing - less than $100 million a year. They'd make that up by selling a quarter million more iPhones a year.
This sort of thing might score points with the Reg readers - at least those whose Apple hatred doesn't color their perception so much that they simply assume Apple is lying and in bed with the government because, well, Apple is "evil", right? But do they run the risk of turning off customers if they take it too far?
It is one thing to be all about privacy. Apple makes money on the hardware, the people who buy iPhones are the customers. Google makes money on advertising, the people who buy Android phones are the product. Playing up that distinction is all well and good, but if they push too far on the "we won't let the government get their mitts on our customer's stuff, and if they do we've got a way to let you know about it even though the law says we can't say anything" they may turn some people off.
Not El Reg readers. I'm talking about the kind of people who think that all Muslims are the same, suicide bombers waiting to happen, the US should nuke the middle east (except Israel) and let God sort of them out. Those people. If Apple pushes far enough to get Rush Limbaugh railing against them for being anti-American and helping the terrorists, there's no way that the Libertarian-leaning techies who decide to stomach a switch from Android to iPhone because of data privacy can outweigh the damage the conservative spin machine would do to Apple.
I think this is great, but I'm really more concerned about Apple keeping my data private from those who want to target ads at me, rather than worrying about NSA trawling. Just encrypt the hell out of stuff, make sure Apple doesn't have the keys and store as little as possible where they must have keys for stuff to work and I'm fine. The carriers are going to cooperate regardless, so the government will know where I am (or where my phone is, which is the same 98% of the time) no matter what protections Apple puts in place. They'll know who I call, when, and for how long. And who I text, unless I text other iPhone owners :) Nothing I can do, or Apple, to fully protect myself from NSA "big government", but they can have a big impact by keeping my data safe from marketers and from "little government" (i.e. police) should I have the misfortune to be arrested, whether deserved or not.