Mark Zuckerberg Defends Against Anti-Ad Statements From Apple’s Tim Cook

If you follow Apple news you might remember a story back in September where CEO Tim Cook published an open letter expressing his criticism of free online services that make money through advertising.

When an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product… Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or Web browsing habits to sell to advertisers.

Cook’s comments weren’t lost on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose company does a lot of what Cook was critical of. In an article published this week by Time magazine, Zuckerberg shot back directly at Cook with the following statements:

A frustration I have is that a lot of people increasingly seem to equate an advertising business model with somehow being out of alignment with your customers. It’s the most ridiculous concept. What, you think because you’re paying Apple that you’re somehow in alignment with them? If you were in alignment with them, then they’d make their products a lot cheaper!

The debate over free vs. paid services has been going on for years, and will likely not let up any time soon. Some companies, like social network Ello, have sprung up basing their entire business model on the fact that they don’t sell information to advertisers.

However, those who see things differently contend that advertising allows companies to continue offering valuable services for free. To play devil’s advocate, without advertising we wouldn’t have free services like Google, Facebook, YouTube, or many of the publications you read for free on the web.

There’s no real answer to who’s right and who’s wrong in this debate, but it’s interesting to see the issue debated amongst the CEOs of two of the world’s most powerful companies.

Which side are you on in this debate?