Monthly Archives: February 2019

Apple’s clash with Facebook and Google: What you need to know

February 2, 2019

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The iPhone maker punished both companies by revoking their enterprise certificates.
By Queenie Wong and Stephen Shankland
February 2, 2019 5:00 AM PST

If you want a sense of how much power Apple holds over Silicon Valley, take a look at what the iPhone maker did to Google and Facebook this week.

On Wednesday, Apple yanked enterprise certificates — digital signatures that both the tech giants used to run software on iPhones and iPads. That shut down internal apps employees at Google and Facebook used to communicate with their co-workers, find shuttle buses and test new features that could eventually be released to the public.

It proved to be more a show of power than long-term punishment. Apple, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, had restored both companies’ certificates by Thursday. Google said its internal apps are back up and running. Facebook confirmed that Apple restored its certificates but said it didn’t have any new information to share.

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s going on?

The spat started after TechCrunch reported that Facebook had taken advantage of an Apple program that lets companies design apps for private corporate use, as well as test apps before they’re available to you. Using a certificate from Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program, Facebook distributed a market research app that offered people as much as $20 a month to give the social network access to their phone and web activity. The data Facebook could view included web searches, location data and even private messages.

The situation got worse when Google revealed that it also used an enterprise certificate for a market research app, called Screenwise Meter, that gave the company access to a person’s phone activity. The search giant offered gift cards to people to download the app.

Apple determined that both companies had violated the rules of its Developer Enterprise Program because they distributed the apps to consumers instead of just employees. Apple blocked the apps by revoking the companies’ enterprise certificates — a move that shut down apps that Google and Facebook employees rely on at their campuses.

What’s an enterprise certificate anyway?

An iPhone won’t run an app unless the app has been signed using a cryptographic stamp of approval called a digital certificate. The certificate lets the iOS operating system verify that an app was written by an authorized party and hasn’t been tampered with. Apple signs software downloaded from the App Store with its own certificate. Apps distributed to consumers don’t get that certificate until it’s been vetted by Apple’s staff and made available through the App Store.

Companies have another way to get certificates, though. The Apple Developer Enterprise Program lets them apply for an Apple-supplied certificate for their software. To qualify, companies have to jump through some hoops, as well as pay $299 a year. Once they’ve qualified, they can use the certificate to approve and distribute software to iPhones and iPads for employee use.

If this certificate isn’t installed, “these apps would show up as completely untrusted,” said Navin Kumar, lead engineer at Insight Engines. “You wouldn’t be able to install or run them. Period.”

So how did Facebook and Google misuse their certificates?

They used them to let people outside their companies install apps on their iPhones without going through Apple’s app store and its approval process. That’s a big no-no.

Apple lays down rules in no uncertain terms: “Enroll in the Apple Developer Enterprise Program only if you intend to distribute proprietary apps to employees within your organization.”

Obviously, ordinary Facebook users don’t qualify as employees even if you’re paying them $20 a month to see how they use their phones.

What happens when an enterprise certificate is revoked?

iOS won’t run the corporate app. Apple supplies companies with enterprise certificates, and it can withdraw them too. When you try to run an an app signed with a revoked certificate, iOS will discover that it’s been revoked and refuse to run the software.

That means Apple was able to block the Facebook and Google market research apps from working for consumers. But the decision also meant that apps used by Google and Facebook employees stopped working.

OK, but how does this affect me?

The good news is that Apple’s move didn’t affect other Facebook and Google apps that consumers use. Those apps, which include Facebook, Instagram, Gmail and others, were still available in the App Store and running as usual.

“This didn’t have an impact on our consumer-facing services,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Internally, though, the move disrupted the daily lives of Facebook and Google employees who test new products and features before they’re released to the public — a process known as “dogfooding.” When Apple yanked the companies’ enterprise certificates, it could also have slowed down the tech giants’ product development. As it turned out, though, the disruption lasted only about a day.


Consumer Tech Survey Reveals Influence of Online Reviews and Video on Customer Purchasing Behavior

February 2, 2019

Data Indicates Investing in Visual and Mobile Content is a Must for Brand Marketers


BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Even with innumerable personal tech products pouring into the market, only 20 percent of shoppers report feeling they have too many devices. With consumers hungry to buy and a market flooded with options, marketers need to break through the noise to capture their share of consumer consciousness. Data released today by Matter Communications, a Brand Elevation Agency specializing in PR, social media, creative services and digital marketing, makes it clear that strong, earned online reviews and a library of “how-to” videos and digital content are a smart place to start.

Matter’s 2018 Consumer Technology Survey reaffirms key digital marketing trends in PR, social and digital marketing, and dispels a few misconceptions regarding why shoppers buy the latest in personal tech. Details of the survey data and best practices for building brand awareness and lifting purchase intent can be found in Matter’s latest e-book “4 Ways to Get Shoppers to Tune into Your Brand.”

Key findings include:

Word of Mouth and Media Still Rule

  • 71 percent of consumers learn about new products through friends and family
  • The top media channels consumers use to find out about new technology products are:
    • Television (38 percent)
    • Technology news sites like CNET, PC Mag, The Verge, etc. (36 percent)
    • Social media (26 percent)
    • Mainstream lifestyle magazines and sites like GQ, Buzzfeed, etc. (14 percent)

Reviews Upstage Celebrities

  • The survey also looked at purchasing habits and found that once consumers become aware of a product, online reviews steer most purchasing decisions:
    • Product reviews are the most important factor in deciding to purchase (88 percent), even over brand name (71 percent), social influencers (10 percent) and celebrity endorsements (5 percent)
    • 56 percent of consumers read reviews on their mobile devices while in-store to purchase a product

Videos Drive Decisions

  • 62 percent of respondents watch consumer technology videos on YouTube, so brands should invest in adding mobile-friendly videos to their content mix
  • Having product “how-to” videos available on YouTube are nine times more important to shoppers than celebrity endorsements
  • Of the consumer tech video content, the most popular include:
    • “How-to” videos (52 percent)
    • Product reviews (26 percent)
    • “Unboxing” videos (25 percent)

“The data revealed in our consumer technology survey affirms the need for marketers to understand how to creatively communicate to digitally-savvy consumers in an ever-growing market,” said Elise Ouellette, vice president at Matter. “Core to developing that strategy is finding partners who truly understand how to elevate and amplify your brand in the right channels to reach the right audience. From headphones and SD cards to cameras and smartphones, Matter has extensive experience designing and executing integrated PR, social media, creative and digital marketing campaigns on behalf of consumer technology brands.”

With offices in Boston and Newburyport, Mass., Providence, R.I., Boulder, Colo., and Portland, Ore., Matter is one of the fastest-growing public relations, social media, creative and digital marketing firms in the country. Matter has won seven ‘Agency of the Year’ accolades in the past three years and has been recognized numerous times as a best place to work.

Survey Methodology
Matter collected responses from 1,000 US-based consumers in March 2018 via a third-party provider to determine the findings of its 2018 Consumer Technology Survey.

About Matter Communications
Matter is a Brand Elevation Agency unifying public relations, social media, creative services, and search and digital marketing into strategic, content-rich communications campaigns that inspire action and build value. Founded in 2003, with five offices spanning North America, Matter works with the world’s most innovative companies across healthcare, high-technology, consumer technology and consumer markets. For more information, please visit:


Erin Brooks, 978-518-4529