Last week, Tim Cook sorta, kinda threw fellow CEO Mark Zuckerberg under the bus
. Cook was responding to a question about Facebook's recent "scandal" involving the use of 50 million user profiles
without the permission of these subscribers. When Apple's CEO was asked what he would do if he were Zuckerberg, Cook said, "I wouldn’t be in this situation. We could make a ton of money if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that."
Today, an interview with Mark Zuckerberg was published in Vox
and included his response to Cook's statement. Calling the Apple CEO's comment "extremely glib," Zuckerberg pointed out that since everyone cannot afford to pay for a service like Facebook, an ad-supported model is the only way to make sure that anyone who wants to be connected can sign up to join the social network.
Zuckerberg also mentioned a quote from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos that he found appropriate to how Facebook is run. "There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less," Bezos said during a Kindle unveiling. Zuckerberg points out that Facebook is "squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use."
"You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth. The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people.
That doesn’t mean that we’re not primarily focused on serving people. I think probably to the dissatisfaction of our sales team here, I make all of our decisions based on what’s going to matter to our community and focus much less on the advertising side of the business.
But if you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford. I thought Jeff Bezos had an excellent saying on this in one of his Kindle launches a number of years back. He said, “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.” And at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use."-Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO, Facebook
Of course, being an ad-supported entity doesn't mean that things should spin so out of control that 50 million subscribers end up having their "Likes" used without permission to create psychological profiles. Zuckerberg admits that with Facebook in the midst of several issues, he could have done a better job.