Apple CEO Tim Cook is right — A more open iPhone could carry a hidden cost for consumers

Daniel Howley, Yahoo Finance:

Testifying in game developer Epic’s antitrust suit against Apple, Cook called the notion of putting third-party app stores on the iPhone “an experiment I wouldn’t want to run.” He’s not alone, either. According to New York University Tandon School of Engineering professor Justin Cappos, opening up the iPhone would imperil every iPhone owner.

“I think there’s a very clear line to draw to say that if you let basically people go and run their own effective app stores,” Cappos told Yahoo Finance, “even if they’re installing things like kind of within an app, the potential for malicious code and malicious behavior on the iPhone increases dramatically.”

This seems an obvious point. I’ve never seen it argued that Android is more, or even as secure as iOS. The well known issue is update fragmentation. The percentage of users on the latest version of iOS is always much, much higher than the percentage of users on the latest version of Android.

While Android has gotten better over the years at getting security updates onto user machines, there’s still no comparison. Apple is aggressive about getting their latest iOS onto more and more phones, and has clearly made strides in expanding the number of older phones that can run the latest iOS.

Though the issue of scammy apps on the App Store continues to exist, it’s important to distinguish those subscription hacking apps from apps that take over your phone in some, more malicious way.

Apple has done a great job in locking down the iPhone, from making you more aware of an app’s clipboard copy and paste, to locking down your microphone, camera, and location data. Opening up the App Store to side loading would make users much more open to malware.

That said, the weak point in this argument is the Mac. From this CNBC piece, talking about Craig Federighi and Mac malware:

On Wednesday, Federighi said that the user base of the Mac is about one-tenth the user base of the iPhone. Apple said in January that it had 1 billion active iPhone users.


“For iOS, we aspired to create something far more secure. All indications are that we have succeeded in doing so,” Federighi said. He said that Apple found and removed about 130 different kinds of malware on Macs last year that had infected hundreds of thousands of user systems, compared with three kinds of malware that had infected iPhones.

Apple has a model to look at. More malware on the platform that allows side loading. As you’d expect.