Are Apple and Google’s reputations bulletproof? Both tech behemoths have been under fire recently, with the computer maker under the gun about working conditions at their suppliers’ plants in China, and Google taking shots today about planting a code on millions of iPhones that lets them track user behavior.
For Google, the latest privacy dust-up is just one in a long line of controversies both in the U.S. and abroad. This time the company appears to be caught red-handed doing something they shouldn’t have. But their response to The Wall Street Journal article that broke the news was anything but contrite: “The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why,” said statement from Rachel Whetstone, Google senior VP for communications and public policy. “We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”
Google did admit that some advertising cookies were placed on people’s Safari browsers without their consent. “We didn’t anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers,” stated Whetstone.
Meanwhile, Apple seems to be weathering the storm caused by a Jan. 25 article in The New York Times chronicling poor and dangerous working conditions at Foxconn plants in China. In response, Apple asked the Fair Labor Association to conduct audits of several of its supplier’s facilities. That investigation is ongoing. “We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
At the same time, Harris Interactive’s brand reputation rankings have come out, with Apple this year supplanting 2011 top dog Google as the No. 1 most reputable brand. While the study predates the current controversies, to the 17,000 U.S. adult respondents to the Harris poll, would working conditions in China and Web privacy issues have swayed their opinions? I say not, as Google and Apple seem to be riding a impenetrable reputation wave.
Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01