N.Y. Times: Tim Cook threatened to remove the Uber app from the App Store

N.Y. Times: Tim Cook threatened to remove the Uber app from the App Store
According to a report in today's New York Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at Apple headquarters back in 2015. At this meeting, Cook made it clear that Apple wasn't happy with a hidden feature of Uber's app that was able to identify and tag which of Uber's members were using an iPhone. At first, the wool was being pulled over the eyes of Apple engineers as this capability was hidden from the tech firm. Even after the app was removed from a particular iPhone, users would still be tagged, something which violated Apple's anti-fraud rules.

Eventually, Apple discovered the ruse. And while Cook was calm during his meeting with Kalanick, the Apple executive was firm with his demand that Uber immediately stop violating Apple's regulations. Cook made it clear in no uncertain terms that if Uber did not stop tagging iPhone users, he would have the Uber app removed from the App Store. Facing the possibility of losing access to millions of iPhone users around the world, Kalanick agreed to stop the tracking of Apple iPhone handsets.

Uber says that the reason it tagged iPhone users was to prevent fraud. In China, stolen iPhone units would have their memories erased and would end up being re-sold. Some crooked Uber drivers would then create phony accounts based on the stolen handsets, and request rides from those fake accounts. Using a process called "fingerprinting," Uber could identify an iPhone even when its memory was wiped. And since this move violated Apple's rules, Uber made sure that those inside Cupertino couldn't discover what Uber had done.

However, Apple employees outside its headquarters did find the "fingerprinting" code which led to the showdown between Tim Cook and Travis Kalanick. At the end of the day, both sides won. Apple got Uber to remove the tagging, and Uber got to keep its app in the App Store.

source: NYTimes

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